Signs and Symptoms
Making an early diagnosis is important to treatment and outcome. There are currently no screening tests for lymphomas and it is usually not evident in the blood.
Statistics provided by: Lymphoma Coalition 2014 Global Patient Survey (3,500 Respondents)
Common Signs and Symptoms
- Painless swelling in a lymph node
- Chills/temperature swings
- Recurrent fevers and excessive sweating at night
- Unintentional weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent tiredness and lack of energy
- Breathlessness and coughing
- Persistent itch all over the body without an apparent cause or rash
- General fatigue
- Enlarged tonsils
The symptoms of lymphoma are commonly seen in other, less serious illnesses, such as influenza or other viral infection. These symptoms are often overlooked, but in cases of less serious illnesses they would not last very long. With lymphoma, these symptoms persist over time and cannot be explained by an infection or another disease.
The most common symptom is a painless swelling in a lymph node. The neck or armpits are common places noticed first, but the swelling can occur in other parts of the body including the groin (that may cause swelling in the legs or ankles) or the abdomen (that can cause cramping and bloating). Some patients with lymphoma notice no swelling at all while others may complain of night sweats, weight loss, chills, a lack of energy, or itching. There is usually no pain involved, especially when the lymphoma is in the early stage of development. Most people who have nonspecific complaints such as these will not have lymphoma. However, it is important that any person who has symptoms that persist see a doctor to confirm that no lymphoma or serious illness is present.
- In certain instances, people feel pain in the lymph nodes after drinking alcohol.
- If the lymphoma involves lymphatic tissue within the abdomen, bowel or stomach, fluid may build up causing swelling near the intestines, potentially leading to sensations of abdominal pressure, pain, diarrhea and/or indigestion.
- The enlarged lymph node sometimes causes other symptoms by pressing against a vein (causing swelling of an arm or leg), or against a nerve (causing pain, numbness, or tingling in an arm or leg).
- Some people experience lower back pain that is unexplained. It is thought that this may be caused by expanding lymph nodes pressing on nerves.
- As lymphomas progress and cancerous lymphocytes spread beyond the lymphatic system, the body loses its ability to fight infection. The generalised symptoms that develop may be confused with signs of influenza, tuberculosis, other infections such as infectious mononucleosis, or other cancers.
Know Your Nodes
Although the number of people diagnosed with lymphoma each year is on the rise, many still don't know about this life-threatening form of cancer. It's important that individuals around the world know the signs and symptoms of lymphoma because it can save your life.
If any of these signs and symptoms are present, please take the list to your doctor. When detected early, there is a better chance for quicker diagnosis, treatment and overall survival.
Take the Know Your Nodes quiz
For up-to-date information on lymphomas and to help spread much needed awareness, connect with us online. Sign up to receive email updates about current research news.