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.

Inês holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, where she specialized in blood vessel biology, blood stem cells, and cancer. Before that, she studied Cell and Molecular Biology at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and worked as a research fellow at Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologias and Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. Inês currently works as a Managing Science Editor, striving to deliver the latest scientific advances to patient communities in a clear and accurate manner.
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Inês holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, where she specialized in blood vessel biology, blood stem cells, and cancer. Before that, she studied Cell and Molecular Biology at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and worked as a research fellow at Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologias and Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. Inês currently works as a Managing Science Editor, striving to deliver the latest scientific advances to patient communities in a clear and accurate manner.
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