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Lymphoma Signs, Symptoms and Types

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any changes in your health that worry you. The health care professionals at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center use the latest research and tools to diagnose and treat lymphoma. Our caring, knowledgeable team can help you get answers if you think you may be at high risk for lymphoma or have experienced symptoms.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Lymphoma?

Lymphoma does not have any known risk factors, and symptoms are easily overlooked, as often patients do not experience symptoms in the early stages of the disease. This makes practicing body awareness even more important. Be familiar with how your body looks and feels so you notice any unusual symptoms.

One clue your symptoms might be caused by lymphoma is that they do not go away. In less serious conditions, like the cold or flu, your symptoms should improve within a week or two. If they don’t, talk to your doctor right away.

Symptoms of Lymphoma

  • Bone pain
  • Cough
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Fatigue
  • Fevers
  • Itchy skin
  • Stomach pain/sickness
  • Night sweats
  • Pain when drinking alcohol
  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, groin or underarm
  • Rash in skin folds
  • Reddened patches on the skin
  • Severe itchiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • Unexplained weight loss

Symptoms of Lymphoma in Children

In addition to the general symptoms of lymphoma, watch children for the following signs:

  • Swelling in abdomen
  • Stomach pain
  • Feeling full after eating very little
  • Coughing or shortness of breath

Symptoms of Lymphoma in Women

It’s easy to miss signs of lymphoma as they may be subtle or nonspecific like a cold or flu. This is especially true for lymphoma that starts in the female reproductive organs - very few women report any symptoms.

Symptoms of female genital lymphoma may include:

  • Pelvic mass
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain or pressure
  • Pain during sex (dyspareunia)

Types of Lymphoma

There are more than 70 types of lymphoma. Lymphomas can affect any part of the lymphatic system, including the stomach, colon, skin, bone marrow, thymus, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes.

Lymphomas are divided into two categories:

  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL): Of the lymphomas, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common. It can occur anywhere in the body and typically not diagnosed until it has reached a more advanced stage. Most people who get this form of lymphoma are over age 55.
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease): Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer, especially if diagnosed and treated early. It typically begins in the upper body, such as the neck, chest or armpits. The average age for diagnosis is 39.

The difference between these lymphomas is how the cancers develop and spread, as well as treatment options. Both can occur in adults or children. If you or a family member are concerned about symptoms or if you have questions about lymphoma, we’re here to help.

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