Signs and Symptoms
There are currently no screening tests for lymphomas. The signs and symptoms of lymphoma can often be mistaken for other less serious illnesses, like the flu. Many patients delay going to the doctor because they don’t realise they have cancer.
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.
- 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.
- Learn more about your lymphatic system
- Know Your Subtype: why understanding subtypes is crucial for patient care
- List of lymphoma subtypes
- Find lymphoma patients organisations in your country
- Download the Lyfe app for lymphoma patients, family, friends, and caregivers
- Find clinic trials, therapy reports, and more in the Global Database
- Search the LC Resource Library