Diseases Misdiagnosed as Lymphoma: Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease

Several diseases are mistaken for lymphoma. Here is one of them.

The primary symptoms of lymphoma—enlarged lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, weight loss—are called non-specific because they can apply to many different potential diseases.

Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease

One of those diseases is a rare disease called Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease. It is considered extremely rare. The symptoms include:

  • Tender, enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat

The disease was first reported in Japan (thus the name) but it occurs in all racial groups.

It has been theorized that the disease is caused by a virus. The vast majority of physicians have never actually seen a case of Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease, but its symptoms can mimic lymphoma to the degree that it can be mistaken as lymphoma.

Typically, the disease goes away after a few months. Treatments are not standardized; they usually involve steroids, immune globulin, or antibiotics. Relapses are uncommon, occurring in between ten and twenty percent of cases.

Knowing the Difference

Determining the difference between lymphoma and Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease comes down to the expertise of the hematopathologist reviewing the patient's biopsy. This is yet another reason to make sure that one's lymphoma biopsy is reviewed by a qualified blood pathologist.

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