This section is for teenagers and young adults and is about a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
We also have more info about:
If you’re looking for information about non-Hodgkin lymphoma in people of all ages, please see our general non-Hodgkin lymphoma section.
It’s important to remember that treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma has a very good success rate and many people are cured.
NHL is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is one of the body’s natural defences against infection.
Lymphomas, like all cancers, are a disease of the body’s cells. Normally cells in our body grow in a controlled way. But sometimes cells keep dividing and grow out of control. This is how cancer develops.
In lymphomas cells called lymphocytes become abnormal and grow out of control.
These lymphocytes can build up in one part of the body and form a lump (tumour).
There are two main types of lymphoma:
Although these cancers are both lymphomas, they are different and need different treatments. Your doctors will do tests to find out which type you have.
One of the most common symptoms is having a lump, which is caused by swollen lymph nodes. This can cause different symptoms, depending on where the swollen lymph nodes are:
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin can cause a lump you can feel or see.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the chest may cause a cough, breathlessness, difficulty swallowing, or a puffy face and neck.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the tummy area (abdomen) may make you feel full quickly when you eat and put you off your food. They may also give you tummy pain.
Most people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma feel tired and unwell. Some also have other symptoms such as high temperatures, heavy sweats (especially at night), tiredness or unexplained weight loss.
Most swollen lymph nodes are caused by an infection not lymphoma. But if you have any of these symptoms or are worried that you may have NHL, go to see your GP. They'll examine you and refer you to a hospital if they think you need to see a specialist doctor.
We don't know what causes NHL in most patients, but research is going on to try to find out. Remember though, it isn't anything that you’ve done.
NHL isn’t infectious and can’t be passed on to other people or family members.
It also doesn’t run in families, so if one person in the family has had it, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the family is more likely to get it.