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.

42 comments

  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?

    • Neil mccartan says:

      I have just found a lump at top of my thigh very hard and painful about an inch long also the last few weeks when walking in stomping my right foot hard and cant seem to stop iti feel really sick at the moment any ideas fols cheers im neil btw

  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.

    • L.m.a says:

      Hi. Did they ever get back to you about those symptoms as I’m currently experiencing exactly the same thing..it’s how I ended up on this site😂 Hope all went well

  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.

  13. nicholas says:

    Hi, i have had pain in left of my neck for over 3weeks with lumpy nodes in my neck and my head feels weird at the same side ,i have also had lower back pain at the right side and a bit of pain in my abdomin at times ,not sure if it is because of my gilberts syndrome i have and anxiety or something else ?

  14. Deanna says:

    Hi. I have been sick for about 3 yrs. Started off with swelling of the whole body. Went from 130 lbs to 186 lbs in less than 3 wks. Doctors just started feeling me full of lasiks. Still climbing in edema. To 202 lbs. For 2 yrs i was so swollen i could barely walk. Due to pain in my legs from the swelling. Ive the last 8-9 months have had serious issues with loss of weight down to 125 bouts of paralyzed in legs feeling like i cant use them from hips 👇 feelings of serious pain in bones of arms and legs of feeling like they are breaking. Feeling of serious pain in spine. My back having such bad spasms. This happens in back of my legs. I recently had 8 wks of unable to move properly. In legs and arms. 4 bouts of high prednisone. Even hydrocodone. I am epileptic and been checked for ms due to symptoms. My white blood cell count goes up when flaired. Im extremely fatigued moody. Lymph nodes swelling. The one in right arm pit gets big n hurts then goes 👇neck glands actually go into spasms get hard as rocks. And hurt. The glands in groin all the way up are way to big. Just not feeling good.

  15. Shelby See says:

    Ive had the swollen node in my groin and other places .. The one in my groin was removed and they said it was benign, but i expirence all those other symptoms constantly. What test do i need to ask for to figure out if what i have is this? I aked for cancer screening and my doc said there was no such thing

  16. Allie says:

    I have a bump near my right hip I think might be swollen lymph nodes. Is it possible to get them in that area? It is in line with my hip below my belly button slightly in height. I’ve had it for about a month and the pain has been increasing. It’s about the size/length of my thumb (it’s an oval shape). I had an ultra sound done and she couldn’t find anything.

  17. Sarah says:

    My husband has nhl follicular the mass put pressure on his intestines and caused a pinch ( narrowing) of his intestine after 2 chemo treatments the mass has shrunk but the intestine hasn’t bounced bak he is in extreamly pain usually after eating his hymotoligist is reluctant to operate for obvious reasons are there any other options ? The docs are treating his condition as ibs? He has 4 chemo treatment to go please just need a bit of advice :/ thanks ..

  18. julie says:

    Allie, have you had a diagnosis? I have several small lumps just below both hips and if I rub my fingers along my thighs I can feel many small lumps. I’m quite worried ……

  19. Kyra says:

    I have so many signs of lymphoma but now my lymph node swelling is going down. All other symptoms are still there. Could I still have lymphoma. They were going to do a biopsy but haven’t yet.

  20. Nehal says:

    Hi, my mom was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma about a month ago and took 1 cycle and a half of ABVD, and now she’s experiencing an axillary pain where the lymph nodes are swollen, is that normal to happen with treatment?

  21. Sandy says:

    Are there other reasons why the glands could be swollen other then cancer? I had one gland sore for well over a year, now both glands in neck and throat. I have fibromyalgia so most things I blame on it. I have been in bed for just about a year without any energy. Just curious what other things could cause it> alergies maybe? Fibro maybe?

  22. I-read-the-comments says:

    **sighs** Does anyone read the previous comments before they comment? Everyone keeps listing their symptoms and asking for medical advice even though the writer has stated MULTIPLE times that he can NOT give medical advice and to see your primary care doctor.

  23. Hi,
    I was wondering if anyone can please help me. my husband Dave has stage 4 None hogkins lymphoma It has spread all over and he is losing weight rapidly he has now gone down 2 a 26 inch waist. There has another one come out on his neck and he is also getting a lot of pain in his lower back. My husband has been on watch and weigh now for well over 12 months. We have been told there is nothing that can be done for him yet when you look at him you wouldn’t think he had cancer. I am so scared of losing him. I know i sound selfish but surely something can be done. My husband is typical Ex army and just says it’s life. We go back to hospital next week ( Thursday 15th February ) I haven’t been going on the last 2 appointments as i am bedridden I need to ask questions but although i know the outcome there has to be something to Help Dave, There are cure’s for lots of cancer’s why not this one??. Regards Linda

    • Dan says:

      My aunty had cancer over 25 years ago, she followed The Gerson Therapy she is still with us in her 80’s, Its must be followed strictly. All info is online.

  24. Greg McCasland says:

    My son told me dr took blood test said he has lymphoma he never took care of it still going to work he say he don’t even think about it and dose not want to hear about it so is that ok ??

  25. Darlene says:

    Hi everyone. I’m at 26 year old single mother who also has fibromyalgia. The pain all throughout my body has caused me to lose my job and I’m always on pain.
    2 months ago my daughter got me sick back to back (kindergarten germs)
    First the flu. Then pneumonia. Then bronchitis.
    All was fine then I noticed a relatively large inflammation right above my collar bone on morning when I woke up in pain. I thought maybe I slept on it wrong although I woke up on the opposite arm.
    Since that morning the swelling has increased. I’ve been on two rounds of antibiotics thinking it was an infection. But it isn’t going down at all and occasionally causes pain across my shoulder.
    I’ve been doing research and I’ve noticed the symptoms of lymphoma are similar especially considering I’ve had a cough with no other symptoms.
    How do I go about getting tested for This? And what does it involve?

    • Victoria says:

      Hi Darlene – go see your doctor and tell him/her all of your concerns. Our babies need their mommies and we need to do everything in our power to fight for our health and our lives! I will be praying for you/ sending good vibes your way.

  26. Mumtaz says:

    Hi everyone,
    I am Mumtaz originally from Pakistan. i move to Brazil back in 2015 and I feel water in my stomach and then pain in upper right side pf stomach with noticeable swelling. They have done endoscopies, biopsies, H. Plory, colonoscopy, ultrasounds and all exams but everything was alright. My pain was not going and these exams were performed in intervals without any positive results. In November, 2017, in an endoscopy, they said you have medium level gastritis and you need to take omeprazols for 6 months. Although, I was taking omeprazol in intervals during all the time of my problem. In January this year, I moved to USA and I visited emergency, in CT-Scan, they found that my lymph node is swelled. They asked for endoscopy com biopsies, HIV, TB-Gold. Again my all exams are fine. However, my pain and bloating is not going anywhere. my RBCs are bit high( 6.05 range is 4.40-5.90). Now, GP referred me to lung doctor, though I do not feel any symtoms related to lung diseases. My life is horrible for last 3 years. I look forward for your suggestions and guidance. Thanks

  27. Victoria says:

    Hi everyone,
    I’m scared to even begin this discussion, but here goes… I initially went to my doctor about a month ago with swollen lymph nodes and a very sore throat. I could hardly swallow and was losing weight because I had trouble eating. I thought it was strep or mono. My doctor looked in my throat and said it looked fine. I was shocked! She also ran a mono test, which came back negative. She put me on antibiotics, assuming it was a lymph node infection. 5 days of antibiotics and no change of symptoms… so she ordered a different 10-day antibiotic. I took them and still, nothing. In the mean time my symptoms have worsened… constant body aches and pain, drenching night sweats, large lump in my throat every time I swallow, I’ve lost about 15 lbs in 3 weeks, and I itch constantly. I’ve tried to stay away from the computer and WebMD because of course it tells me I have cancer. And thats terrifying. I’m 24 years old and have a 1 year old son…
    So I went back to my doctor last week.

    She prescribed me one more round of a different antibiotic and ordered a full blood work up. My white blood cell count was slightly high and platlet count very very low. She told me to take the antibiotics and referred me to an ENT. I finished the antibiotics yesterday and saw the ENT today. The ENT has referred me to an oncologist. My appointment is tomorrow.
    I am so scared and in so much pain. I know something is very wrong. How do we mentally get thru this? What do I do if/when I get the dreaded diagnosis tomorrow?
    Trying to stay positive. Any advice is welcome!!

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