Lymphoma is a cancer type that affects the lymph system, which is part of the immune system. There are different kinds of lymphoma, including Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s. Since the symptoms associated with lymphoma are not very different from other medical conditions, it may be difficult to diagnose. This is the reason why it is important to be aware of the first signs.

Patients commonly start by noticing a painless swelling in a lymph node, a problem known as lymphadenopathy. The swelling can appear in different parts of the body, the most common being in the neck and armpits, but also in the legs, ankles, or abdomen. In some cases the swelling is not noticeable, but other complaints from patients include a persistent cold or respiratory infection.

First Signs of Lymphoma

In addition to swelling, there are other signs that may indicate the presence of early-stage lymphoma. Usually patients do not experience pain, but they do feel other discomfort, including night sweats, chills or fevers, unexpected weight loss, loss of appetite, lack of energy or tiredness, itching or rash, coughing, difficulties in breathing, enlarged tonsils, or headaches. These symptoms may indicate other diseases, but seeking the opinion of a doctor can help either detect the disease early or exclude a diagnosis of lymphoma.

If a patient experiences these symptoms, the physician will conduct a complete physical exam, looking for undetected swollen lymph nodes or fluid in the body. Patients are usually asked about pain, fatigue, or paralysis, which can happen as result of a swollen lymph node affecting the nerves of spinal cord. In addition, the physician will look for enlarged internal organs and a biopsy, blood tests, x-rays, and a bone marrow evaluation may also be requested.

Symptoms of Advanced Lymphoma

In more advanced cases the symptoms are generally more severe. Patients may start to experience pain in the swollen lymph nodes that were previously painless, particularly when drinking alcohol. When the lymphoma affects the abdominal, bowel, or stomach lymphatic tissue, patients may feel pressure, pain, or have diarrhea or indigestion due to accumulated fluid and swelling in the intestines. The pressure caused by swollen lymph nodes in a vein can cause the swelling of a member, or pain, numbness, or tingling in the case of a nerve.

Lower back pain is also associated with advanced lymphoma. Despite the fact the reasons are not fully understandable, it may also be related to the pressure caused by swollen nodes. In the severe cases, when there is a progression of the lymphoma and there are cancerous lymphocytes already spreading into other systems, the body may lack its capacity to combat the infections.

Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


  1. Jeff says:

    Hi, I have 4 swollen lymph nodes 3 on the side of the neck one under jaw area, stomache pain and my head same side is numb in a small area itchy armpits and lower back pain. I’ve lost lots of weight and go 3-4 days without being hungry.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Hi Jeff. We are sorry to hear about your symptoms. We are assuming you have already been diagnosed. Are you under any treatment?

  2. Jamie says:

    I have a swollen lump under my arm and both armpits have itchy rashes and I feel extremely tired not very hungry lost 15 lbs in just a few months for no reason and have frequent headaches and lower and upper neck and back pain. Any idea if this could be it? I am going to the doctor tomorrow

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Sorry Jamie, but we can not give you a diagnosis or even assume anything. It is best that you talk with your doctor about that. How did your doctor visit go?

  3. Caroline D says:

    I have one swollen lymph node. My doctor put me on an antibiotic but it hasn’t gone down. Should I be worried?

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Hmmmm, I would say that you should continue to monitor it and check with your doctor frequently with any changes.

  4. Lina Pratt says:

    My boyfriend, to-be fiancé, best friend, my only close person had recently passed away because of lymphoma. He had swollen lymph nodes for at least 3 years but he never paid attention to it, then he began to have severe night sweats, then he developed cough, with blood. A year ago he first came to the emergency room at a local hospital, I remember he lost weight, it was noticeable. Doctors couldn’t diagnose anything. Within a year he kept losing weight then gaining it back, back and forth. He’d ended up in a hospital several time. During the whole year I noticed severe changes in his mood and attitude. He had severe lower back pain. Lack of energy and motivation. In September 2016, again he admits to the hospital , biopsy was done. It was cancer. They had done a blood cell transplantation. It went into remission according to the doctors. Couple months later it returns, for the last time. It was bad. He got some sort of throat infection. He couldn’t speak, nor eat, nor swallow properly. His left eye was half closed. It’s because the tumor had spread to the brain. In very little time he couldn’t feel his leg. Tumor spread to the spine cord. Radiation and chemo therapy were more harmful than helpful. He was getting thinner and thinner. It was scary to look at him. He wasn’t told this time what’s happening, that it’s at the final stage and had spread way to far. But he knew he’s dying, he even mentioned it several times. On February 17 he passed away. He was 38 yo.
    I want to know what kind of Lymphoma it was, since I was never told and what caused it.. could it be an hiv? I had a test done in October of 2016, it came back negative. That means if he had it , I would have it too, but I don’t. At least in October I didn’t. I’m also concerned about my health. I’ve lost weight a lot lately, could be due to stress and many sleepless nights. But I also have lower back pain, that goes into my right thigh down my leg. Maybe I have it too? I only have government insurance and not sure what they’ll cover, if any. I want to know how could he possibly get it, the causes of it and what kind of test will tell me if I have it too, without having all the unnecessary test, avoiding radiation.

  5. amici says:

    my close friend is suspected of lymphoma. he had experienced stomach and back pain 2 weeks ago but have subsided. the ct scan showed that he had swollen lymph nodes in the stomach. now, he only experiences fever everyday which has been going on for 3 weeks, and fatigue. other than that, he doesn’t feel pain anymore. however, we noticed that his left foot had edema which was very very minimal. is this a sign of lymphoma?

  6. Rachel Salomon says:

    is it “normal” with lymphoma for the swelling of the lymph nodes to go down? my boyfriend was diagnosed with lymphoma and all of the nodes in his neck, armpits and groin were swollen to some degree. the neck area being the worst. They seem to have gone down some now….is this usual behaviour for swollen nodes with a lymphoma diagnosis?

  7. Wendy Allard says:

    I was on high dose prednisone for a year. Been off 3 months, now when I drink alcohol the next day my glands ache. groin, Armpits neck,jaw. Should I be worried ?

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Hi Wendy! We (LYMNews) can not give a definite answer to that. We can, and do, encourage you to talk with your doctor about this.

  8. Dorethea Howard says:

    Starting having pain in lower back then a couple of days later pain and swelling in right pelvic area, groin area and down right leg to knee.right leg hurt to lift. Could not even bend over to put socks on it was hurting so bad. Recently had a colonoscopy all was good. Had a simuliar occurance back in December did a cat scan said it was good. My father had lymphoma twice when he was alive should I let my GP aware of situation? ( I am a 58 or old female) also have had external and internal sonograms not showing anything.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Hi Dorethea we would recommend that you consult with your doctor as soon as you can. It might not be Lymphoma, but you do not want to take that chance.

  9. Mystery lump says:

    I have had a swollen lymph node in my groin for over a year never goes away but this time it has stayed for a while and is rather large like a reddish purplish color sometimes sensitive and now for the past couple weeks uI have been itching all over badly with no rash and some night sweats with clothes damp is this lymphoma?

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Thank you for the question, but as a digital publisher we can not give out any type of medical advice. However, we can encourage you to talk with your doctor about this.

  10. Rachael says:

    I have had an itchy scalp and nose for more than a few weeks. I have treated for lice and dandruff. To which I have neither. I have no rash no red Ness. A few days ago my lymph nodes on left side on neck (at the back), behind my left ear and between my jaw and ear became incredibly painful (discovered while I was having a few alcoholic beverages while at dinner) these became more painful and I have a fair amount of swelling around them as well as some longish lumps on top of scalp. It was confined to just my left side though this evening I found a long painful lymph node on bottom of skull on my right side. I have no infection. I have had blood taken which shows this also. I am going insane. The pain has not subsided after 3 days. Please help with ideas as the doctors have only said that they should only be swollen if I have an infection? I have had another lot of bloods done, waiting results. Though i am worried this may miss something as besides being tired, sore, swollen and itchy I feel pretty fine.

  11. Dalia says:

    My lymph glands on back of head are swollen, and my Lower back is sore. They may not be related. But no other symptoms.

  12. Sutapa says:

    I am 29 years old. I have many swollen limphs under my ear on right hand side up to beauty bone. These are getting larger in size as well as numbers. I feel extreme tiredness and full after having a small amount of food. Headache is also there.what is happening with me? Is it a symptom of cancer? Is it curable if it is so.

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