General Symptoms of Hodgkin's Disease

As lymphomas progress and cancerous lymphocytes spread beyond the lymphatic system, the body loses its ability to fight infections. The generalized symptoms that develop may be confused with influenza, other infections, such as infectious mononucleosis ("mono"), tuberculosis (TB), or other cancers. In particular, people with HD or NHL may experience the following:

  • Appetite loss
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Red patches on the skin
  • Severely itchy skin, often affecting the legs/feet
  • Weight loss

The itching associated with Hodgkin's disease is much more severe than that caused by dry skin. In some cases, patients may actually scratch through the skin with their fingernails in attempts to get some relief. The night sweats caused by HD or NHL may be so extreme that they completely soak the patient's sheets and blankets.

Some oncologists refer to these generalized symptoms as B symptoms. Unfortunately, B symptoms are related to an increased cancer "burden"—more cancerous tissue—in many patients and, therefore, indicate a worse prognosis, or outcome.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015