Hodgkin's Disease - Symptoms

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What were the early symptoms of your Hodgkin's disease?

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Hodgkin's lymphoma facts*

*Hodgkin's lymphoma facts medical author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

  • Hodgkin's lymphoma is a type of lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system).
  • The most common symptom of Hodgkin's lymphoma is a painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin.
  • Some of those affected have other symptoms like fever, night sweats, fatigue, itching, or weakness.
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma is most common among teens and adults aged 15 to 35 years and adults aged 55 years and older.
  • Risk factors may include a weakened immune system, HIV or EBV infection, and a family history of the disease.
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma is diagnosed when abnormal tissue is detected by a pathologist after a biopsy of an enlarged lymph node.
  • The abnormal cells in Hodgkin's lymphoma are called Reed-Sternberg cells.
  • Staging of Hodgkin's lymphoma refers to the extent of spread of the abnormal cells within the body.
  • Imaging studies such as CT scanning, MRI, or PET scanning may be done to determine the stage of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • Treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma depends on the symptoms, stage and location of disease, as well as the age and health of the patient.
  • Treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma usually includes radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
  • Regular follow-up examinations are important after treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma. Patients treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma have an increased risk of developing other types of cancer later in life, especially leukemia.
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Comment from: Juls, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

My Hodgkin's disease started back in 1991. I had been extremely fatigued but was busy with college and wedding plans and thought nothing of it. I also had itchy skin and then developed a pretty bad cough. I noticed I had large swelling at the base of my neck. That is what prompted me to go to the doctor. After a week of it still being there, I went back to the doctor who then sent me to a general surgeon for a biopsy and after the biopsy they did a post-op chest X-ray and could tell that it was most likely Hodgkin's disease, and it was. I was then referred to an oncologist and went through eight months of chemo (ABVD) and six weeks of radiation. I have been cancer-free ever since.

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Comment from: Lana, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 03

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in April 1996. I was pregnant (Age: 30/31) when my symptoms first started. (I had my baby in January 1996.) I was extremely fatigued. I had night sweats that would saturate the sheets. (I slept on beach towels!) My back would itch so bad that I literally drew blood scratching it. (This drove me crazy!) I did not experience weight loss. My blood pressure ran extremely low. I had three swollen lymph nodes in my neck. One was egg-sized. I was finally diagnosed when I "demanded" a biopsy of a lymph node in my neck. After my staging tests, I was diagnosed at stage II. Soon after that I started a treatment of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I have had no recurrences; however, I must admit I have never felt the same since. I tire very easily, have shortness of breath and have gained a lot of weight. (This was never a problem before.) However, I am so thankful to have had these past 13 years to raise my four children!

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