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Symptoms of Hodgkin's disease

Lymph node enlargement on the left side of neck due to Hodgkins disease.
Lymph node enlargement on the left side of neck due to Hodgkins disease.

Presenting clinical features (what brings the patient to the doctor): At least 70-75% of patients present because they have noticed the painless development of lymphadenopathy (i.e. enlargement of lymph nodes), usually in their neck glands or armpits.


The child in the photograph represents a typical presenting picture, viz. a well looking individual with a large painless lump appearing over a few months in the neck, indeed two thirds of patient present in this way.


Approximately 5% of patients have groin lymph gland enlargement but the vast majority of patients have the disease predominantly in the lymph node regions above the diaphragm. In these patients, a majority will also be found to have disease in the chest - usually lymph node enlargement that is detectable on simple chest x-ray as widening of the central chest structure shadows.


When the patient presents late in the natural history of the disease, then he/she may have other symptoms such as fevers, night sweats and weight loss (the so-called 'B' symptoms as they denote a more advanced stage of disease); pruritus/generalised itching may also occur in these cases.

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