Quantifying the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma in symptomatic primary care patients aged ≥40 years: a case-control study using electronic records

Br J Gen Pract. 2015 May;65(634):e289-94. doi: 10.3399/bjgp15X684805.


Background: In the UK, approximately five people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) daily. One-tenth of diagnoses are in those aged >75 years.

Aim: To establish a symptom profile of HL and quantify their risk in primary care patients aged ≥40 years.

Design and setting: Matched case-control study using Clinical Practice Research Datalink patient records.

Method: Putative clinical features of HL were identified in the year before diagnosis. Results were analysed using conditional logistic regression and positive predictive values (PPVs) calculated for the consulting population.

Results: Two-hundred and eighty-three patients aged ≥40 years, diagnosed with HL between 2000 and 2009, and 1237 age, sex, and general practice-matched participants were studied. Six features were independently associated with HL: lymphadenopathy (OR 280, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 25 to 3100), head and neck mass not described as lymphadenopathy (OR 260, 95% CI = 21 to 3200), other mass (OR 12, 95% CI = 4.4 to 35), thrombocytosis (OR 6.0, 95% CI = 2.6 to 14), raised inflammatory markers (OR 5.2, 95% CI = 3.0 to 9.0), and low full blood count (OR 2.8, 95% CI = 1.6 to 4.8). Lymphadenopathy per se has a positive predictive value (PPV) of 5.6% for HL in patients aged ≥60 years.

Conclusion: Consistent with secondary care findings, lymphadenopathy is the clinical feature with the highest risk of HL in primary care and warrants urgent investigation.

Keywords: Hodgkin lymphoma; diagnosis; primary health care.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology