Early Signs and Symptoms of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a severe type of cancer that begins within the lymphocytes or the white blood cells, which are usually involved in the defense mechanism of the body . It can occur anywhere in a part of the body, which stores lymph like the spleen, thymus, bone marrow or the lymph nodes. But, it most commonly originates in the lymph nodes in the upper region of the body. HL can affect both children and adults, with a higher predilection for the latter. It has been estimated that 8500 new cases of this cancer will be diagnosed in the US in the year 2018 and it will cause around 1050 deaths . Since HL has a high 5-year survival rate of 86.6% , it is important that you watch out for early signs and symptoms and seek medical attention right away.
Symptoms and Signs of Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Swollen lymph nodes
Quite inadvertently, one of the most classic signs of Hodgkin’s lymphoma will be swollen lymph nodes in the area of the neck, armpits or the groin, where it usually begins. These will be noticed as soft swellings or lumps below your skin.
This swelling will not be painful but may sometimes be a cause of discomfort, particularly after alcohol intake. Swollen lymph nodes due to lymphoma are not resolvable over time as opposed to those seen in states of infection or a fever. In fact, the converse occurs, that is, they tend to worsen over time. The swelling then grows in size and may grow to involve the surrounding areas.
You will also notice an involvement of lymph nodes in the other areas of your body with time. These will be seen in the area of the chest or the abdomen, other than the ones already mentioned.
In addition to swollen lymph nodes, you will experience a generalized feeling of being unwell and weak. Sometimes, this may be the only symptom you experience.
You may also experience a prolonged fever, which will continue over weeks, resolving and returning on its own. What’s peculiar is that there will be no underlying infection causing this fever to return.
Night sweating is another common symptom, which is so severe in case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, that you will most likely wake up in a drenched shirt.
An unexplained weight loss is another common sign, which will make you lose more than 10% of your body weight within 6 months.
When you notice this, you will try to increase food intake to make up for the loss, but, there is a high chance that you will not succeed because of loss of appetite and a feeling of fullness after eating just a little. This will indubitably be accompanied by a fatigue and diminished energy levels.
Other than swollen areas, you will notice rashes or pimple-like structures or papules on your skin, which will present along with a generalized or localized itchiness. These lesions will be red to purplish in color and may sometimes bleed or ulcerate.
Other non-definitive symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma include difficulty in breathing, chest pain and cough along with nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In severe cases, headache, seizures, cognitive decline and bluish discoloration of the skin may be noted.
It is important to note that you may not notice all these symptoms if you happen to have Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Some of you may experience none and feel completely fine whereas others may experience a couple of these and still not have this cancer. Whatever the case, you must be suspicious about any of these symptoms equally and must straightaway visit your doctor.