SIGNS & symptoms
Lymphoma can cause many different symptoms, depending on which type of lymphoma it is and where it develops in the body. Watch our signs and symptoms explainer video to get clued up on the signs and symptoms!
Most of these symptoms can often be mistaken for other less serious illnesses, like the flu. This means that lymphoma can be hard to diagnose compared with other cancers. By knowing more about your body, and these signs and symptoms, lymphoma can be detected early and there is a better chance for quicker diagnosis, treatment and overall survival. Some symptoms of lymphoma are just in one place – local to the lymphoma itself. Other symptoms affect your body as a whole.
Every occurrence will be different. There could be many symptoms or none at all.
Swollen lymph nodes
Not all lymphomas produce an obvious lump, but a lump in the neck, armpit or groin can be the sign of a problem. Lymph nodes help to fight infection. Around half of people with lymphoma have swollen lymph nodes, though this can also occur with less serious diseases. A persistent, unexplained lump, anywhere in your body should always be investigated.
Sweats that are severe enough to “drench” clothes or bed clothes and regularly wake you up. Although called night sweats, these can also happen during the day. Night sweats can happen with any type of Lymphoma. Night sweats can also be caused by other conditions, such as a viral infection and the menopause.
Feeling exhausted after doing very little can be an indication of an underlying problem. Fatigue is something that isn't relieved by sleep or rest. People describe it as feeling drained of energy, or being so tired you can’t do your normal activities. Sometimes even simple daily tasks, such as getting dressed, can feel too much.
Unexplained itching, without any signs of a rash on the skin. It can affect:
the areas of skin near the lymph nodes affected by lymphoma
the lower legs
the whole body
Itching affects around 1 in 3 people with Hodgkin lymphoma and 1 in 10 people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Unexplained Weight Loss
If you lose weight suddenly, without dieting, or changing your eating or exercise habits. The NHS advises you to see your GP if you lose more than 5% of your normal body weight in a month, or more than 10% over 6 months.
Other local symptoms
Fever can be a later stage symptom. It may not be a very high fever and could come and go.
Symptoms from lymphoma in the abdomen
Lymphomas that start or grow in the abdomen (belly) can cause swelling or pain in the abdomen. This could be from lymph nodes or organs such as the spleen or liver enlarging. An enlarged spleen might press on the stomach, which can cause a loss of appetite and feeling full after only a small meal.
Lymphomas in the stomach or intestines can cause abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.
Symptoms from lymphoma in the chest
Swollen lymph nodes in the chest are a common symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma and high-grad non-hodgkin lymphoma. When lymphoma starts in the lymph nodes in the chest, it may press on your lungs and airways, which can cause coughing, shortness of breath, or a feeling of chest pain or pressure.
This symptom can occur with other illness. If you’ve had a cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks - #bebodybrave and get it checked out by your GP!
It’s important not to panic if you are experiencing any of the symptoms we have mentioned. They are all symptoms which can happen with other far less serious illnesses. If you have persistent symptoms of any kind, or are worried about your health, and know something is not right go to your doctor. Be confident and don’t be afraid to return to your doctor, or seek the advice of another doctor, if your symptoms don’t go away, and you know your body is telling you something is wrong.
We only mention a few symptoms here and don’t go into detail. The following websites have much more detailed information written by medical professionals.