Can Hodgkin Lymphoma Be Found Early?

Screening tests or exams are used to look for a disease in people who have no symptoms. At this time, there are no widely recommended screening tests for Hodgkin lymphoma. This is because no screening test has been shown to lower the risk of dying from this cancer. Still, in some cases Hodgkin lymphoma can be found early. 

The best way to find Hodgkin disease early is to pay attention to possible symptoms. The most common symptom is enlargement of one or more lymph nodes, causing a lump or bump under the skin which is usually not painful. This is most often on the side of the neck, in the armpit, or in the groin. More often this is caused by something like an infection, rather than Hodgkin lymphoma, but it’s important to have such lumps checked by a doctor. 

Other symptoms can include:

  • Fever that doesn’t go away
  • Drenching night sweats that often require changing bed sheets or night clothes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Severe and constant itching or pain in the lymph nodes after drinking alcohol

Careful, regular medical checkups may be helpful for people with known risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma, such as a strong family history. These people do not often get Hodgkin lymphoma, but they (and their doctors) should know about any possible symptoms and signs they might have.

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Bartlett NL, Foyil KV. Chapter 105: Hodgkin lymphoma. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Dorshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Elsevier: 2014.

Younes A, Carbone A, Johnson P, Dabaja B, Ansell S, Kuruvilla J. Chapter 102: Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

Last Medical Review: February 10, 2017 Last Revised: March 28, 2017

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