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Hodgkin Lymphoma Early Detection,
Diagnosis, and Staging
Detection and Diagnosis
Finding cancer early, when it's small and hasn't spread, often allows for more treatment
options. Some early cancers may have signs and symptoms that can be noticed, but
that's not always the case.
q Can Hodgkin Lymphoma Be Found Early?
q Signs and Symptoms of Hodgkin Lymphoma
q Tests for Hodgkin Lymphoma
Stages and Outlook (Prognosis)
After a cancer diagnosis, staging provides important information about the extent of
cancer in the body and likely response to treatment.
q Hodgkin Lymphoma Stages
q Survival Rates for Hodgkin Lymphoma
Questions to Ask About Hodgkin Lymphoma
Here are some questions you can ask your cancer care team to help you better
understand your cancer diagnosis and treatment options.
q Questions to Ask About Hodgkin Lymphoma
Can Hodgkin Lymphoma Be Found
Screening tests or exams are used to look for disease in people who have no
symptoms. At this time, there are no widely recommended screening tests for Hodgkin
lymphoma (HL). This is because no screening test has been shown to lower the risk of
dying from this cancer. Still, in some cases HL can be found early.
The best way to find HL early is to be on the lookout for possible symptoms. The most
common symptom is enlargement or swelling of one or more lymph nodes, causing
a lump or bump under the skin which usually doesn't hurt. It's most often on the side of
the neck, in the armpit, or in the groin. More often this is caused by something like an
infection, not HL, but it's important to have such lumps checked by a doctor.
Careful, regular medical check-ups may be helpful for people with known risk factors1
for HL, such as a strong family history. These people do not often get HL, but they (and
their doctors) should know about any possible symptoms and signs they might have.
Last Revised: March 28, 2017
Signs and Symptoms of Hodgkin
You or your child can have (HL) and feel perfectly well. But HL often causes symptoms
or changes that should be checked by a doctor.
Lump(s) under the skin
The most common symptom of HL is a lump in the neck, under the arm, or in the
groin, which is an enlarged lymph node1. It doesn't usually hurt, but it may become
painful after drinking alcohol. The lump might get bigger over time, or new lumps might
appear near it or even in other parts of the body.
Still, HL is not the most common cause of lymph node swelling. Most enlarged lymph
nodes, especially in children, are caused by an infection. Lymph nodes that grow
because of infection are called reactive or hyperplastic nodes. These often hurt when
they're touched. If an infection is the cause, the node should go back to its normal size
after the infection goes away.
Other cancers can cause swollen lymph nodes, too. If you have an enlarged lymph
node, especially if you haven't had a recent infection, it's best to see a doctor so that the
cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Some people with HL have what are known as B symptoms:
q Fever (which can come and go over several weeks) without an infection
q Drenching night sweats
q Weight loss without trying (at least 10% of your body weight over 6 months)
These symptoms are an important part of staging HL and determining a person's
General (non-specific) symptoms
Other possible symptoms of HL include:
q Itching skin
q Feeling tired (fatigue)
q Loss of appetite
Sometimes the only symptom might be feeling tired all the time.
Cough, trouble breathing, chest pain
If HL affects lymph nodes inside your chest, the swelling of these nodes might press on
the windpipe (trachea) and make you cough or even have trouble breathing, especially
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