The most common symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma is a swelling in the neck, armpit or groin. The swelling is usually painless, although some people find that it aches.
The swelling is caused by an excess of affected lymphocytes (white blood cells) collecting in a lymph node (also called lymph glands). Lymph nodes are pea-sized lumps of tissue found throughout the body. They contain white blood cells that help to fight infection.
However, it's highly unlikely that you have Hodgkin lymphoma if you have swollen lymph nodes, as these glands often swell as a response to infection.
Read more about lumps and swellings.
Some people with Hodgkin lymphoma also have other more general symptoms. These can include:
- night sweats
- unintentional weight loss
- a high temperature (fever)
- a persistent cough or feeling of breathlessness
- persistent itching of the skin all over the body
A few people with lymphoma have abnormal cells in their bone marrow when they're diagnosed. This may lead to:
- persistent tiredness or fatigue
- an increased risk of infections
- excessive bleeding – such as nosebleeds, heavy periods and spots of blood under the skin
In some cases, people with Hodgkin lymphoma experience pain in their lymph glands when they drink alcohol.
When to seek medical advice
See your GP if you have any of the above symptoms, particularly if you have persistently swollen glands with no other signs of infection.
While the symptoms are unlikely to be caused by Hodgkin lymphoma, it is best to get them checked out.
Page last reviewed: 20 September 2018
Next review due: 20 September 2021