Common signs and symptoms

The most common early symptom of lymphoma is a painless swelling in the lymph nodes in one area of the body, such as the neck, armpit or groin.

Some people have other symptoms, depending on where the lymphoma is in their body. These local symptoms may include:

  • a cough, difficulty swallowing or breathlessness, if the lymphoma is in the chest area
  • indigestion, tummy pain or weight loss, if the lymphoma is in the stomach or bowel.
  • pain – this is not common but may be caused by swollen lymph nodes pressing on tissue in a part of the body such as the back or tummy (abdomen). In some people with Hodgkin lymphoma swollen lymph nodes may ache or they may feel painful soon after drinking alcohol.

If lymphoma spreads to the bone marrow

This is more common with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) but can happen with Hodgkin lymphoma too. If lymphoma spreads to the bone marrow it can reduce the number of blood cells. This can cause:

  • tiredness, if you do not have enough red blood cells
  • difficulty fighting infections, if you do not have enough white blood cells
  • bruising or bleeding, if you do not have enough blood-clotting cells, called platelets.

Other symptoms

Lymphoma can also cause symptoms which affect the whole body, including:

  • heavy, drenching sweats, especially at night
  • high temperatures that come and go without any obvious cause
  • unexplained weight loss
  • tiredness
  • itching of the skin all over the body that does not go away.

Some people do not have any of these symptoms and the lymphoma is found during tests for other conditions.

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