Symptoms, Diagnosis & Staging

Symptoms, Diagnosis & Staging


The symptoms for Hodgkin's disease in children are the same for other illnesses and may not indicate this type of cancer. If your child experiences any of these symptoms for a period of time and they don't seem to go away, please consult your doctor.

Symptoms include swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin area that doesn't go away in a few weeks; fever without other signs of infection that doesn't go away; itching; tiredness; weight loss; and drenching night sweats.

Diagnosis and Staging

Because Hodgkin's lymphoma is so rare in children, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the swollen lymph nodes upon first examination. If the swelling doesn't respond to this therapy, a physical examination of the lymph node sites will help determine which areas are most inflamed and a biopsy and blood tests will likely be used to help make a determination. Hodgkin's lymphoma has a distinctive kind of abnormal cell that is easy to see with a microscope. This is the only way to make the diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma.

After the initial diagnosis however, the doctor will perform other tests to see how far the disease has progressed and to stage the disease. There are four stages of Hodgkin's lymphoma and each patient isdivided into one of two categories based on whether the person has unexplained fever, drenching night sweats, or weight loss. Category "A" means the patient does not have these symptoms; Category "B" means that at least one of these symptoms is present.

The following tests are used to determine which of the four stages the patient's Hodgkin's disease may be:

X-ray is used to look at the chest area for any tumors.

CT (computed tomography) scan, often with a contrasting dye, will produce a 3-dimensional image of the body to see if the lungs, liver, or spleen have becoming involved.

PET (positron emission tomography) scan is given to monitor treatment. Before treatment starts, this scan uses a special radioactive dye that is absorbed by the cancer. It will show up on the scan when cancer cells are alive and well. However, after treatment, this scan is given again to indicate where cancer cells have died off. This scan alleviates the need for another biopsy and will show the entire body's response to the therapy.

Bone-marrow biopsy is performed only if your doctor suspects the lymphoma has spread into other organs. it is very rare for Hodgkin's lymphoma to enter a child's bone marrow.

Bone scan is only used if your doctor suspects the lymphoma has spread in the body. Bone metaastases is very rare in children for this cancer as well.

Four Stages are numbered one through four. Stage one indicates that cancer is only in one area of lymph nodes or one organ outside the lymph nodes; Stage two indicates two or more lymph node areas on the same side of the diaphragm are affected, or, one lymph node area and one area or organ adjacent to the lymph nodes; Stage three means cancer was found in lymph node areas above and below the diaphragm and may have spread to an area or organ near these lymph nodes and spleen. Stage four means that cancer has spread outside of the lymph system to the lungs, liver, bones, bone marrow, or other organs.