Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system): signs and symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment (2023)


What is lymphoma?

Lymphoma is the term that refers to the cancer that you have developedlymphatic system.Lymphoma is mainly divided into two categories:Hodgkin lymphomaAndNon-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.Here we focus on lymphomas affecting adults.

What is the lymphatic system?

Your lymphatic system helps your immune system protect your body from infection and disease. Your lymph nodes are the first line of defense against infection. They store white blood cells (lymphocytes), which multiply to fight infection. These include B cells, which produce antibodies, and T cells, which recognize and destroy unhealthy or infected cells.

Lymphoma occurs when one of your white blood cells turns into a fast-growing cancer cell that doesn't die. These cancer cells can grow in your lymph nodes or other areas, including your bone marrow, spleen, or other organs.

(Video) Signs and symptoms of lymphoma - Mayo Clinic

Is lymphoma a common disease?

Adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common of the three types of lymphoma. About 20 people per 100,000 people are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma each year, and about 3 people per 100,000 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in adults.

Who does lymphoma affect?

Each type of lymphoma affects different people:

  • Non-Hodgkin's LymphomaIt is more common in late adulthood (ages 60 to 80) and affects more men than women.
  • Hodgkin lymphomaIt is more common in early adulthood (20 to 39 years) and late adulthood (65 years and older). Men are more likely than women to develop Hodgkin lymphoma in adulthood.

What is the survival rate for lymphoma?

Early diagnosis and more effective treatment mean that more people are still living with lymphoma five years after diagnosis. Almost 90 percent of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma are alive five years after diagnosis. More than 70 percent of adults with non-Hodgkin lymphoma are alive five years after diagnosis.

symptoms and causes

What are the most common symptoms of lymphoma?

Many symptoms of lymphoma are similar to those of other diseases. Having these symptoms doesn't mean you have lymphoma. However, if your symptoms persist for several weeks, you should consult your doctor. Symptoms of lymphoma can include:

  • Painless swelling of one or more lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin.
  • Constant tiredness.
  • Unexplained fever.
  • Dripping night sweats.
  • difficulty breathing.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • itchy skin

What causes lymphoma?

Although most cancers occur randomly, researchers have identified the following conditions or circumstances that may increase risk:

(Video) Warning Signs of Lymphoma

  • You have or have had a virus, includingHIV(human immunodeficiency virus),Epstein-Barr(mononucleosis) and Kaposi's sarcoma human immunodeficiency virus.
  • There is lymphoma in your family.
  • yourimmune systemDamaged or weakened by illness or medical treatment, such as an organ transplant.
  • You have an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body instead of protecting it.
  • You have certain chronic infections.

diagnosis and control

How is lymphoma diagnosed?

Healthcare providers use a range of tests to diagnose lymphoma and determine treatment:

  • complete blood count (CBC): The CBC measures and counts your blood cells. Healthcare providers use CBC to detect a variety of diseases.
  • chemical blood test: This test measures the amount of certain substances in the blood.
  • Computed tomography (CT).: This test uses a series of X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of soft tissue and bone.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET).: Your doctor will inject a radioactive tracer into your body. Tracers help detect early signs of cancer.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test uses large magnets, radio waves and a computer to create very clear images of your body's organs and structures.
  • Biopsylymph nodes or other organs: A healthcare provider performs a biopsy to remove cells, bodily fluids, tissues, or growths for examination under a microscope.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal cord puncture): Your doctor will insert a needle into your lower back to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid is the clear fluid that surrounds the spine and brain.
  • Knochenmarkbiopsie: Your doctor will insert a needle into your pelvic bone or breastbone to take a small sample of bone marrow from inside your skeleton.

management and treatment

What drugs and treatments are used to treat lymphoma?

Lymphoma treatment varies depending on the type of lymphoma you have. In general, lymphoma treatment includes:

  • chemotherapy: Healthcare providers use many types of drugs to kill cancer cells.
  • radiotherapy: Radiation therapy uses powerful beams of energy to kill or stop cancer cells from growing.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to attack cancer cells without damaging normal cells.
  • immunotherapy: Immunotherapy stimulates your immune system to fight cancer more effectively. Treatment can increase the body's production of anti-cancer cells or help healthy cells recognize and attack cancer cells.
  • bone marrow transplant: A healthcare provider transplants stem cells from your bone marrow to replace damaged blood cells with healthy ones.
  • CAR-T-Zelltherapie: This treatment uses your white blood cells to kill cancer cells.

What are the most common side effects of lymphoma treatment?

Treatment for lymphoma depends on your condition. Most treatments have various side effects. Equally important, people often respond differently to the same treatment. Ask your doctor what to expect during treatment, including possible side effects. Your doctor can recommend ways to manage the side effects of your treatment.

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How can I reduce my risk of lymphoma?

Researchers continue to identify risk factors for lymphoma. There is reason to believe that certain viruses and family history may increase the risk of lymphoma. Talk to your doctor if you think your medical or family history might increase your risk of lymphoma.


What will happen to me if I have lymphoma?

The prognosis, or expected outcome, of lymphoma continues to improve as healthcare providers find new ways to treat it.

(Video) LYMPHOMA After Ignoring 6 WARNING Signs

stay with me

How can I take care of myself if I have lymphoma?

If you have lymphoma, it can be beneficial for you to have a plan for living with lymphoma. The plan can help you with your initial treatment and any follow-up treatments. Here are some things to consider in your planning:

  • Learn how lymphoma treatment can impact your daily life. This allows you to decide whether you need help at home or during treatment.
  • Cancer is stressful. You may find that activities like meditation, relaxation exercises, or breathing exercises help reduce stress.
  • Consider exercise or regular physical activity. Cancer patients who engage in regular physical activity achieve better outcomes.
  • Cancer can be lonely. You may be reluctant to talk about your illness with family and friends. Talk to your doctor about services and programs that might be helpful.

When should I see my doctor?

Contact your doctor anytime you think your lymphoma symptoms are getting worse or you need help managing the side effects of your treatment.

When should I go to the emergency room?

Many cancer treatments can affect your immune system. This means that cancer treatment can increase the risk of infection. Symptoms that may require a visit to the emergency room include:

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher (38 degrees C or higher).
  • Chills.
  • Phlegm or "wet" cough.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Persistent diarrhea.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

Cancer is a journey and your issues will change as you travel. If you've just found out you have lymphoma, you may want to ask some basic questions:

(Video) What are the early symptoms of lymphoma? Chris's diagnosis story

  • How did you know I have lymphoma?
  • What type of lymphoma do I have?
  • How long have I had lymphoma?
  • What treatment options do I have?
  • What are the side effects of each treatment?
  • What's my prognosis?

Note from the Cleveland Clinic

Lymphoma is a serious disease. Fortunately, lymphoma treatments are getting better and better, helping people live longer. Each year, more people with lymphoma are alive five years after their diagnosis. Researchers are learning more about risk factors for lymphoma. If you think you are at risk of lymphoma, talk to your doctor. If so, they can help you understand what you can do to monitor and protect your health.


What triggers lymphoma? ›

Causes of lymphoma

Exposure to radiation and certain types of chemicals can put some people at higher risk. Benzene and some agricultural chemicals have been implicated; people exposed in the workplace, who can be at highest risk, should follow occupational health guidelines to minimise exposure.

Is lymphoma cancer curable? ›

More than 80 percent of all patients diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured by current treatment approaches. The cure rate is higher, approaching 90 percent, in younger patients and those with early-stage favorable disease.

How is lymphoma cancer diagnosed? ›

Blood tests are essential to accurately diagnosing this complex disease. These tests can show whether you have lymphoma cells or abnormal levels of normal cells: Blood smear: We take a drop of blood and look at it under a microscope.

What is usually the first symptom of lymphoma? ›

The most common early symptom of lymphoma is one or more swollen lymph nodes, often in the groin, armpit, and side of the neck. Other symptoms may include: fevers, chills, and night sweats.

How long can you live with lymphoma? ›

For stage I NHL, the 5-year relative survival rate is more than 86%. For stage II the 5-year relative survival rate is 78%, and for stage III it is more than 72%. For stage IV NHL, the 5-year relative survival rate is almost 64%.

What organs does lymphoma spread to? ›

Lymphoma most often spreads to the liver, bone marrow, or lungs. Stage III-IV lymphomas are common, still very treatable, and often curable, depending on the NHL subtype.

How is lymphoma usually caught? ›

If the doctor suspects that lymphoma might be causing your symptoms, they might recommend a biopsy of a swollen lymph node or other affected area. For a biopsy, a small piece of a lymph node or, more often, an entire lymph node is removed for testing in a lab. A biopsy is the only way to confirm a person has NHL.

What kills lymphoma cells? ›

Chemotherapy is one of the main tools used to treat lymphoma. Chemotherapy medications are chemicals that kill lymphoma cells. They may be taken as pills or infusions into your veins.

Is lymphoma a fast spreading cancer? ›

Aggressive (high-grade) lymphoma.

These types tend to grow and spread quickly. They usually need to be treated right away. Even though they grow quickly, these lymphomas often respond well to treatment. Some of them can be cured.

Is lymphoma a serious cancer? ›

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Although lymphoma is a serious disease, good treatment options are available.

Is lymphoma considered a blood cancer? ›

What is lymphoma? Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the immune system. It specifically affects white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are an important part of your immune system. Lymphoma is also called a cancer of the lymphatic system, or lymphatic cancer.

How fast does lymphoma spread? ›

Diffuse large B cell lymphoma

This fast-growing lymphoma accounts for about one third of NHL cases. For this lymphoma, it is typical for lymph nodes to double in size every month, and patients often present within a few months of having noted an enlarged lymph node.

Can lymphoma be caught in a blood test? ›

Most types of lymphoma can't be diagnosed by a blood test. However, blood tests can help your medical team find out how lymphoma and its treatment are affecting your body. They can also be used to find out more about your general health.

What can be mistaken for lymphoma? ›

Conditions that non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is commonly misdiagnosed as include:
  • Influenza.
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • Cat scratch fever.
  • HIV.
  • Infections.
  • Mononucleosis.

Do you feel sick with lymphoma? ›

Persistent fatigue, lethargy, weakness. Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting. Abdominal pain or swelling, or a feeling of fullness. Skin rash or itchy skin.

How long can you have lymphoma without knowing it? ›

Lymph nodes commonly swell if we have an infection but they usually go back to normal over a short time. With lymphoma, the lymph nodes often grow slowly and may be there for months or years before they're noticed. But sometimes they grow very quickly.

Where does lymphoma usually start? ›

Lymphoma is cancer that starts in the lymph nodes. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the lymph nodes in the armpits it does not become lymphoma. The cancer cells that have spread to the lymph nodes are still breast cancer cells.

How bad is chemo for lymphoma? ›

Skin reactions are common. Chemotherapy kills cells that multiply quickly, such as lymphoma cells. It also causes damage to fast-growing normal cells, including hair cells and cells that make up the tissues in your mouth, gut and bone marrow. The side effects of chemotherapy occur as a result of this damage.

What are the signs of end stage lymphoma? ›

Symptoms towards the end of life
  • loss of appetite.
  • fatigue and drowsiness.
  • changes in breathing.
  • confusion.
  • withdrawal and loss of interest.
  • feeling cold.
  • loss of bladder and bowel control (incontinence)
  • pain.
Oct 31, 2022

At what stage is lymphoma terminal? ›

Stage 4. Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of lymphoma. Lymphoma that has started in the lymph nodes and spread to at least one body organ outside the lymphatic system (for example, the lungs, liver, bone marrow or solid bones) is advanced lymphoma.

Where do you itch with lymphoma? ›

Itching caused by lymphoma can affect: areas of skin near lymph nodes that are affected by lymphoma. patches of skin lymphoma. your lower legs.

Who gets lymphoma the most? ›

Unlike most cancers, rates of Hodgkin lymphoma are highest among teens and young adults (ages 15 to 39 years) and again among older adults (ages 75 years or older). White people are more likely than Black people to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and men are more likely than women to develop lymphoma.

Who is most at risk for lymphoma? ›

People between the ages of 15 and 40 and people older than 55 are more likely to develop Hodgkin lymphoma. Gender. In general, men are slightly more likely to develop Hodgkin lymphoma than women, although the nodular sclerosis subtype is more common in women (see the Introduction).

What body part is lymphoma most in? ›

This uncontrolled growth may form a tumor, involve many parts of the lymphatic system, or spread to other parts of the body. Hodgkin lymphoma most commonly affects lymph nodes in the neck or in the area between the lungs and behind the breastbone, which is called the mediastinum.

Will a CT scan show lymphoma? ›

A CT scan might show which lymph nodes are enlarged and may be affected by non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). A CT scan is a test that uses x-rays and a computer to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body. It takes pictures from different angles.

What is the best treatment for lymphoma? ›

The main treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma are chemotherapy alone, or chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. Occasionally, chemotherapy may be combined with steroid medicine. Some people also have biological medicines. Surgery isn't generally used to treat the condition, except for the biopsy used to diagnose it.

What foods make lymphoma worse? ›

Foods to avoid

Foods to skip or cut back on include: Animal fats like fatty meats, processed meats, lard and butter. Sugar, including added sugars in desserts, sweetened drinks and processed foods. White, refined grains like white bread, pasta and rice.

What foods help fight lymphoma? ›

Choose protein-rich foods.
  • Lean meats such as chicken, fish, or turkey.
  • Eggs.
  • Low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese or dairy substitutes.
  • Nuts and nut butters.
  • Beans.
  • Soy foods.

Which lymphoma Cannot be cured? ›

Low-grade NHL cannot usually be cured. It nearly always comes back or starts to grow again at some point after treatment. You can have further treatment to control the lymphoma. This can often keep people feeling well for long periods of time.

Can lymphoma turn into other cancers? ›

Some survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma have a higher risk of developing a secondary cancer, especially acute myeloid leukemia (after certain types of chemotherapy, like BEACOPP), non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, or breast cancer.

How urgent is lymphoma? ›

You should have an urgent referral if you have swollen lymph nodes and your GP can't explain the cause. Your GP will also take into account any other symptoms you might have such as: high temperatures (fevers) night sweats.

Can lymphoma go away without treatment? ›

Follicular lymphoma may go away without treatment. The patient is closely watched for signs or symptoms that the disease has come back. Treatment is needed if signs or symptoms occur after the cancer disappeared or after initial cancer treatment.

Is lymphoma a form of leukemia? ›

Leukemia and lymphoma are easily confused because they're both types of blood cancer. Leukemia usually occurs in bone marrow, while lymphoma originates in the lymphatic system and mainly targets lymph nodes and lymph tissue.

What is stage 4 lymphoma? ›

Stage 4. Stage 4 means one of the following: your lymphoma is in an extranodal site and lymph nodes are affected. your lymphoma is in more than one extranodal site, for example the liver, bones or lungs.

How does lymphoma affect the brain? ›

Symptoms of brain lymphoma can include:

Headaches. Double vision. Loss of hearing. Nausea and vomiting.

What is the most curable lymphoma? ›

Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer. After treatment is complete, your care team will develop a survivorship plan that minimizes long-term side effects of treatment. Those risks include infertility, secondary cancers or toxicities to vital organs such as the heart and lungs.

Is lymphoma a solid cancer or blood cancer? ›

Examples of solid tumors are sarcomas, carcinomas, and lymphomas. Leukemias (cancers of the blood) generally do not form solid tumors.

What does lymphoma itch feel like? ›

Itching associated with lymphoma can feel like it is occurring below your skin and can't be satiated by scratching. It can be extremely distracting and usually isn't helped by creams or medications. Itching from lymphoma tends to occur more frequently on the lower half of the body and often gets worse at night.

How suddenly does lymphoma appear? ›

NHL is a disease that usually comes on suddenly and gets worse quickly. Symptoms vary depending on where tumor(s) are. These are the most common locations and their symptoms: Abdomen – pain, swelling, fever, anemia, tiredness, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and irregular periods.

Can you catch lymphoma from someone? ›

Infections. Lymphoma is not infectious. You cannot catch lymphoma and you cannot pass it on to someone else.

What happens if lymphoma goes untreated? ›

If left untreated, the disease can lead to death. If you decline life-saving treatment, you can choose to get support from palliative care (a medical team that manages your symptoms and pain).

What illness can be mistaken for lymphoma? ›

Conditions that non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is commonly misdiagnosed as include:
  • Influenza.
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • Cat scratch fever.
  • HIV.
  • Infections.
  • Mononucleosis.

What are the biggest lymphoma symptoms? ›

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma include swollen lymph nodes, especially in the part of the body where the lymphoma starts to grow. Other symptoms include fever, night sweats, feeling tired, and weight loss. These symptoms can also come from other conditions.

Where does lymphoma usually show up? ›

In lymphoma, cancer cells are found in the lymphatic system, which is comprised of the bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, stomach, intestines and skin. Because lymph tissues are present in many parts of the body, lymphoma can start almost anywhere.


1. Lymphoma Causes, Signs , Symptoms, And Treatment - Dr. Mangesh P Kamath | Doctors' Circle
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)
2. Lymphoma | Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | Dr. (Sqn Ldr) HS Darling
(Narayana Health)
3. Lymphoma : Causes , Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
(Kauvery Hospital)
4. Non-hodgkin lymphoma - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology
(Osmosis from Elsevier)
5. Lymphoma Causes and Treatments
(Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada)
6. What are the signs of lymphoma?
(Top Doctors UK)


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