Recognize the Symptoms of Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Hodgkin's lymphoma is a pretty well-known subtype of cancer, especially when you consider just how rare the disease is.

About 10,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma each year; this is extraordinarily rare compared to lung cancer or breast cancer, which may be diagnosed in 25 times as many people annually.

Hodgkin's has become well known because so much research has gone into the disease, and it has become one of modern medicine's great success stories. The cure rate for Hodgkin's hovers somewhere around 90 percent today. Fifty years ago, almost nobody survived this disease.

Among the many reasons why the cure rate has become so high is due to the understanding of the symptoms associated with the disease and the ability of clinicians to recognize these symptoms early enough to give a patient the best possible chance of surviving this cancer.

Recognizing the symptoms of Hodgkin's isn't limited to the clinician. Any person familiar with the symptoms can try to recognize them and alert his or her doctor to their presence so that the proper tests can be carried out and an accurate diagnosis reached.

Common Symptoms of Hodgkin's Lymphoma

  • Swollen, painless lymph node(s) in the neck, armpit or groin
  • Recurring and unexplained fevers over several months
  • Unexplained weight loss (as much as 10 percent)
  • The onset of drenching night sweats
  • Itchy skin (also known as pruritus)
  • Pain in the lymph nodes on alcohol consumption

These are largely non-specific symptoms, meaning that, in and of themselves, they do not automatically mean one has Hodgkin's; they can be symptomatic of a range of other health problems, big and small. People with early-stage Hodgkin's may have none of these symptoms, or they may have all of them. For this reason, it is important to see a doctor regularly who can recognize these symptoms sooner than most patients can.

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