Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which includes the lymph vessels, lymph nodes, tonsils, adenoids, the spleen, and the thymus. There are two main types of lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s. Non-Hodgkin’s is the most common, affecting nearly 90% of people who have the disease, while Hodgkin’s lymphoma makes up the remaining 10%.
Symptoms for lymphoma will vary depending on which form of the condition you are suffering from. While symptoms for both are similar, there are a few differences between the two.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Symptoms
- Swollen lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, or groin—these are usually painless
- Swelling or pain in the abdomen
- Coughing or trouble breathing
- Pain in the chest
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Symptoms
- Swelling in the lymph nodes of the groin, armpits, or neck— these are also usually painless
- Excessive fatigue
- Fever and chills
- Night sweats
- Weight loss up to 10% or more of your body weight
- Loss of appetite
- Over-sensitivity to the effects of alcohol, including pain in your lymph nodes after drinking alcohol
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. In order to confirm your diagnosis of lymphoma, several tests may be performed. These include:
- Physical examination: A simple physical exam will be performed in order for your doctor to determine how large your lymph nodes are, as well as to determine the size and condition of your spleen and liver.
- Blood and urine tests: These help rule out any other possible infection or disease that may be causing your symptoms.
- Imaging tests: X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans are all imaging tests that your doctor will probably recommend to look for tumors in your body.
- Biopsy of lymph node tissue: This will require a procedure in which a sample of one of your lymph nodes is removed and then tested and analyzed. This will help determine if you have lymphoma, which type of lymphoma you have, and how your treatment should proceed.
- Biopsy of bone marrow: A bone marrow biopsy uses a needle inserted into your pelvic bone to obtain a sample of bone marrow. This will also be tested and analyzed in a lab to find out if the cancer has spread to your bone marrow. Biopsies can also help determine which stage of lymphoma you are in.