Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms

The most common symptom is painless enlargement of one or more lymph nodes, causing a lump or bump under the skin. This is most often on the side of the neck, in the arm pit, or in the groin. This is more often a sign of something such as an infection, rather than Hodgkin disease, but it is important to have such lumps checked by your doctor.

Other symptoms can include unexplained fever that doesn't go away, drenching night sweats that often require changing bed sheets or night clothes, and unexplained weight loss. Severe and constant itching can be another symptom of Hodgkin disease. However, very early in the disease, many people with Hodgkin disease may not have any symptoms.

Source: American Cancer Society - Hodgkin Disease

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms

NHL may cause many different signs and symptoms, depending on where it is in the body. Sometimes it doesn't cause any symptoms until it has grown quite large.

General Symptoms

  • Swollen lymph nodes
    If the cancer involves lymph nodes close to the surface of the body (on the sides of the neck, in the groin, in the underarm areas, or above the collar bone) the patient, a family member, or the doctor will most likely notice the swelling as a lump under the skin. Although enlarged lymph nodes are a common symptom of lymphoma, they are much more often caused by infections).
  • Lymphoma in the belly (abdomen):
    Lymphomas here may cause the abdomen to become swollen and tender.
  • Lymphoma in the chest:
    If the disease starts in the thymus (a small organ behind the breast bone) or lymph nodes in the chest, pressure on the windpipe (trachea) can cause coughing, shortness of breath, or pain.
  • Lymphoma of the brain:
    Lymphomas of the brain cause headache, trouble thinking, weakness in certain parts of the body, personality changes, and sometimes seizures.
  • Lymphomas of the skin:
    Lymphomas of the skin may be seen or felt. They often start as very itchy, red to purple lumps under the skin.

Some symptoms of NHL are known as B symptoms. These include:

  • Weight loss without a known reason
  • Fever
  • Heavy night sweating (enough to soak clothes and sheets)

B symptoms sometimes mean the cancer is faster growing.

Other symptoms can be caused by low blood counts. Blood counts can become low when lymphoma spreads to the bone marrow and crowds out the normal, healthy cells that make new blood cells. Lymphoma can also cause the body to destroy blood cells. Low blood counts can lead to problems like:

  • Severe or frequent infections (from low white blood cell counts)
  • Easy bruising or bleeding (from low blood platelet counts)
  • Fatigue (from low red blood cell counts or anemia)

Source: American Cancer Society - Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Overview.

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