Lymphoma: Symptoms and Signs

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Lymphoma, being a cancer type, oftentimes scares people. Of course, those fears aren’t baseless, as there’s no way to prevent lymphoma. Still, the treatment survival rates are good, especially if the disease is diagnosed early.

So, while other people prefer not to even think about it (as the thought itself can be terrifying), let’s look at the main lymphoma symptoms, which might help you diagnose the illness at its beginning.

What Is It?

To understand the symptoms better, we should understand the disease. Cancer is the result of the uncontrollable cell growth (the abnormal ones). Lymphoma, being one of many cancer types, starts in lymphocytes and becomes a lymphatic system’s illness.

There are two types of lymphoma (and you’ve probably heard of them): non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin. This classification is based on the kind of immune cells that the disease affects. It’s subdivided into other types, and all of them have their own specifications.

Let me just calm you down and say that, in the majority of cases, lymphoma is curable. Of course, each situation depends on many factors, but the general rates are quite promising.

Male vs. Female

Some diseases show themselves differently in men and women. In this case, lymphoma symptoms in men are the same as lymphoma symptoms in women.

Still, there are some differences after all. The Hodgkin type affects men more than women, while the non-Hodgkin occurs more frequently in women.

This info might help you predict the disease or pay more attention to the symptoms you experience. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Warning Signs

LymphomaVery often, lymphoma symptoms are not that visible. Sometimes they are so subtle that not only you but even your doctor won’t get alarmed because of them. Oftentimes, they might remind you of the ordinary flu or infection that just last longer. If you start experiencing multiple symptoms, stay calm. Those aren’t always the sign of the illness, but it’s definitely a reason to get a checkup, just to be on the safe side.

Symptom number one is probably the most obvious and common one: swelling. A swollen lymph node can be found in the neck, groin, or armpit. They don’t usually cause pain when you touch them but can feel like a nagging ache. Depending on the lymphoma type, they can come and go, disappear and then swell again after some time.

Unexpected and fast weight loss is another warning sign. When you’re not on a diet, don’t exercise too intensely, but lose weight within a short period of time, that can be a symptom. It oftentimes happens when the cancer cells start “feeding” on you, using your body and its energy, making your body try to fight them, thus losing even more energy, resources, and weight.

Again, because of the lack of energy, feeling fatigue can be another symptom. Of course, it can also be a symptom of other health conditions, so pay attention to the signs that come along.

For example, fever. In the majority of cases, it is caused by infection. Yet, when it’s a lymphoma symptom, a fever is not extremely high but very consistent.

Itching, which is more common for the Hodgkin type, is a very tricky symptom. Oftentimes, people take it for a simple rash or allergy and don’t pay too much attention to it. However, feeling itchy in certain places, like in just the lower legs, only in feet or hands, or everywhere, all over the body, can be a sign of lymphoma, especially when there’s no visible rash.

Pain is usually a symptom of the later stages, so it’s a reason to feel alarmed. You can feel it in places where the disease affects a major organ (or a couple of them). So, if you start feeling any pain unexpectedly, and it doesn’t go away for a couple of days, it’s better to see your doctor.

When lymphoma starts growing, it affects the appetite. So, instead of considering it to be a great way to lose weight and get in shape, be careful and talk to your doctor. Maybe you don’t feel like eating much because you’re stressed and exhausted. But maybe it’s the illness spreading throughout your body, including your stomach, making you not feel hungry at all.

Being too sweaty without being too active is another alarming sign, especially when it happens at night. Many people with lymphoma describe waking up in the middle of the night covered in sweat as if they just got under the rain or came back from the gym. So, if you ever find yourself sweating excessively, it’s better to schedule a checkup right away.

The list of symptoms is long and can contain even the tiniest details, but these ones are the most common.

Health is the most precious thing we have. In order not to lose it, consider this info, pay attention to your body, and take care of yourself. Learning as much as you can about certain health threats and managing to spot them as soon as possible can save your life.

References:

  • Wotherspoon, A. C., et al. “Helicobacter pylori-associated gastritis and primary B-cell gastric lymphoma.” The Lancet 338.8776 (1991): 1175-1176.
  • Cappell, Mitchell S., and Nashed Botros. “Predominantly gastrointestinal symptoms and signs in 11 consecutive AIDS patients with gastrointestinal lymphoma: a multicenter, multiyear study including 763 HIV-seropositive patients.” American Journal of Gastroenterology 89.4 (1994).
  • So, Yuen T., Jay H. Beckstead, and Richard L. Davis. “Primary central nervous system lymphoma in acquired immune deficiency syndrome: a clinical and pathological study.” Annals of neurology20.5 (1986): 566-572.

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