Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms
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Where Lymphoma Develops in the Body
There are over 500 lymph nodes throughout the body, all connected through a network of lymph vessels. Clusters of lymph nodes can be found in the neck, armpits, groin, abdomen, pelvis and chest.
Lymph nodes circulate white blood cells. When the concentration of white blood cells increases as part of the body's immune response to a virus or infection, the lymph nodes can become swollen. In some cases, the swelling is caused by another condition, like cancer.
Symptoms of Hodgkin Lymphoma
Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms tend to be fairly non-specific and share many characteristics with other illnesses, such as a cold, the flu, and other types of respiratory infection.
The early stages of Hodgkin lymphoma often do not cause any symptoms. When they do occur, a common early sign of Hodgkin lymphoma is painless swelling of one or more lymph nodes, usually in the neck.
Additional Hodgkin lymphoma signs may include:
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms or groin
- Intermittent fevers
- Drenching night sweats
- Feeling tired all the time
- Unexplained weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Generalized itching
- Abdominal pain or swelling, feeling of fullness
- Coughing, shortness of breath, chest discomfort
NOTE: These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than Hodgkin lymphoma, such as an infection or other illness. It is important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
The Presence of B Symptoms for Staging Hodgkin Lymphoma
In addition to using Roman numerals I-IV to rate the extent and spread of the disease, Hodgkin lymphoma staging also involves assigning the letters "A" and "B" to each stage. The letters refer to whether or not certain symptoms are present.
The letter "B" indicates that a person is experiencing one or more of the following cancer symptoms: drenching night sweats, fever or weight loss. If none of these symptoms are present, then the letter "A" is used. B symptoms may factor into the overall disease prognosis and may be signs of a more advanced cancer.
Understanding Your Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms
Having one or more cancer symptoms does not mean you have Hodgkin lymphoma. Swollen lymph nodes and other symptoms may be signs of other conditions. Typically, symptoms from an infection will go away after a couple of weeks. It’s important to consult your doctor if you have symptoms that last longer than two weeks or keep coming back.
For example, if you have persistent or recurrent swollen lymph nodes, fever or night sweats, see your doctor. Also, dramatic weight loss in a short amount of time, like losing more than 10 percent of your normal weight in less than six months, is a sign to seek medical attention.
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