Debra Wood, RN
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms will appear as the disease progresses. If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to cancer. Many of these symptoms can be caused by other, less serious conditions, like an infection. However, it is still important to discuss them with your doctor. Early detection and treatment improve outcomes for both cancer and other health conditions.
The most common symptom is a painless swelling of the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes in the neck, collarbone, armpit, or groin are most affected, but swelling can occur in lymph nodes anywhere in the body. Swollen lymph nodes can be felt just under the skin and may change in size over the course of time. If the lymph nodes shrink, it does not mean the problem is gone. In general, if you have swelling that lasts longer than 2 weeks, it should be reported to your doctor.
The lymphatic system has several functions that affect the entire body. As lymphoma progresses it may cause:
Swollen lymph nodes may also press on nearby blood vessels, nerves, or other structures. This compression may interfere with normal function and cause a variety of symptoms. Possible symptoms by location of swollen lymph nodes include:
General information about adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma. National Cancer Institute
website. Available at:
Updated March 3, 2016. Accessed April 7, 2016.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003126-pdf.pdf. Accessed April 7, 2016.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116014/Non-Hodgkin-lymphoma-NHL. Updated May 5, 2016. Accesses October 6, 2016.
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/lymphomas/non-hodgkin-lymphomas. Updated October 2012. Accessed April 7, 2016.
Signs and symptoms. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: http://www.lls.org/lymphoma/non-hodgkin-lymphoma/signs-and-symptoms. Accessed April 7, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD
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