Symptoms of non Hodgkin lymphoma
This page tells you about the symptoms you may get if you have non Hodgkin lymphoma. You can find the following information
Symptoms of non Hodgkin lymphoma
The most common symptom of non Hodgkin lymphoma is one or more painless swellings in the neck, armpit or groin. Each swelling is an enlarged lymph node. If you have a swollen lymph node that does not go away after 6 weeks, you should see your GP.
You may have other general symptoms such as heavy sweating at night, temperatures that come and go with no obvious cause or losing a lot of weight. Doctors call these B symptoms. Some people may also have unexplained itching.
Only some people with NHL have these symptoms, most don't. It is important to tell your doctor about any symptoms like this. It helps them to decide which type of NHL you have and what treatment you need.
Some people have NHL in the bone marrow. This may cause anaemia, an increased risk of infection or bleeding problems. NHL can also cause enlarged tonsils, liver or spleen. You may feel breathless if the lymph nodes in your chest are affected.
Lymphomas that start in the brain are very rare. They can cause headaches, difficulty thinking, personality changes, difficulty moving parts of the body, and seizures (fits).
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the about NHL section.
You may have other general symptoms such as
- Heavy sweating at night
- Temperatures that come and go with no obvious cause
- Losing a lot of weight (more than one tenth of your total weight)
Doctors call this group of symptoms B symptoms. Some people may also have unexplained itching.
Only some people with non Hodgkin lymphoma have these symptoms, most don't. It is important for you to tell your doctor about any symptoms like this. It helps them to decide which type of NHL you have, and what treatment you need.
Some people with non Hodgkin lymphoma have lymphoma cells in their bone marrow when they are diagnosed. This may cause low blood cell counts, such as
- Low red blood cell counts (anaemia), causing tiredness and sometimes breathlessness
- Low white blood cell counts, increasing your risk of getting infections
- Low platelet counts, causing bleeding problems such as very heavy periods, nosebleeds or a rash of tiny blood spots under the skin
There is more about coping with low blood counts in the section about effects of chemotherapy on your bone marrow.
There can be many other symptoms depending on where your non Hodgkin lymphoma is. For example
- Your tonsils may be enlarged
- Your liver may be enlarged
- Your spleen may be enlarged
- You may have a lump in your abdomen (tummy)
- You may feel breathless, if the lymph nodes in your chest are affected
- Other symptoms can be caused by enlarged lymph nodes pressing on an organ or nerve
Lymphomas which start in other organs such as the stomach or skin may cause symptoms such as weight loss or skin rashes.
Lymphomas of the brain
Lymphoma that starts in the brain is called primary cerebral lymphoma or primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma. This is very rare. This type of lymphoma can cause symptoms such as
- Difficulty thinking
- Difficulty moving parts of the body
- Changes in personality
- Epileptic fits (seizures) can sometimes be caused
High grade lymphomas that started elsewhere in the body can sometimes spread to the brain. If this happens, you may have similar symptoms to these.
If you have any of these symptoms you must have them checked by your GP. But remember, they can all be caused by other medical conditions. Everyone's glands come up when they have a throat infection, for example. Most people with these symptoms will not have a lymphoma.
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