Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Symptoms

  • Symptoms

    A painless swelling of the lymph nodes is the most common sign of NHL. The lymph nodes in the groin, abdomen, neck, or armpit are most commonly affected. A lump can be felt on either side of the neck, in the groin, in the armpit, or above the collarbone. Because enlarged lymph nodes are also a sign of infection, a doctor may observe them for a period of weeks to see if they change in size.

    Abdominal swelling can occur in the abdomen because of fluid collection or swollen lymph nodes. This abdominal swelling may also cause constipation.

    Other symptoms of NHL include:

    • Enlarged lymph nodes
    • Fever
    • Excessive sweating or night sweats
    • Weight loss; loss of appetite
    • Fatigue
    • Weakness
    • Bone/flank pain
    • Severe itchiness
    • Coughing, shortness of breath, suffocation
    • Constant tiredness
    • Red patches on the skin
    • Enlarged spleen

    Patients experiencing general symptoms such as weight loss, night sweats, and fever (referred to as B symptoms ) may have an increased number of cancer cells. While these symptoms do not necessarily mean that a patient has NHL, patients who have been diagnosed with NHL and are experiencing B symptoms typically have more advanced disease and a poorer prognosis.

  • Risk Factors

    A malfunction in the immune system may trigger an infection that predisposes people to NHL. As the body's defenses are altered, the risk of infection increases. People with particular infections such as HIV are at high risk for developing lymphoma.

    Infections that are associated with NHL are:

    • HIV
    • human T-cell leukemia or lymphoma virus
    • Epstein-Barr virus
    • H. pylori infection
    • Tuberculosis
    • Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)

    Exposure to large amounts of chemicals or radiation may predispose people to NHL. Exposure to large quantities of chemicals (e.g., weed killers, pesticides, chemotherapy) or high levels of radiation (e.g., radiation therapy, nuclear reactor accidents) may increase your risk for NHL. Ironically, although chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used to treat cancer, they also predispose patients to NHL for 10 years after treatment.

    Advancing age and gender may predispose people to NHL. The chances of developing NHL increase as one ages. NHL is more common in men than in women.

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I'm Shereen A. Gharbia, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

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