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Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

  • Alternative Names

    Lymphoma - non-Hodgkin's; Lymphocytic lymphoma; Histiocytic lymphoma; Lymphoblastic lymphoma; Cancer - non-Hodgkin's lymphoma


    Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can cause a variety of symptoms. Symptoms depend on what area of the body is affected by the cancer and how fast the cancer is growing.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Night sweats (soaking the bedsheets and pajamas even though the room temperature is not too hot)
    • Fever and chills that come and go
    • Itching
    • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, groin, or other areas
    • Weight loss

    Coughing or shortness of breath may occur if the cancer affects the thymus gland or lymph nodes in the chest, which may put pressure on the windpipe (trachea) or other airways.

    Some patients may have abdominal pain or swelling, which may lead to a loss of appetite, constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

    If the cancer affects cells in the brain, the person may have a headache, concentration problems, personality changes, or seizures.

    Signs and tests

    The doctor will perform a physical exam and check body areas with lymph nodes to feel if they are swollen.

    The disease may be diagnosed after:

    • Biopsy of suspected tissue, usually a lymph node biopsy
    • Bone marrow biopsy

    Other tests that may be done include:

    • Blood test to check protein levels, liver function, kidney function, and uric acid level
    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • CT scans of the chest, abdomen and pelvis
    • Gallium scan
    • PET (positron emission tomography) scan

    If tests reveal you do cancer, additional tests will be done to see if it has spread. This is called staging. Staging helps guide future treatment and follow-up and gives you some idea of what to expect in the future.