Lymphoma cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, and it is responsible for the most cancer-related deaths in the United States. But, despite its high mortality rate, there are some people who acquire lymphoma cancer and still manage to live long, productive lives. Depending on the type of lymphoma that is diagnosed, patients may often undergo intense radiotherapy that has a high percentage rate of success. Once in remission, some patients even become cancer free after their remission has reached a set number of years. Early intervention is key, and listening to the body and knowing the early symptoms of lymphoma can make a big difference when it comes to the success of cancer treatment.
When discussing its early symptoms and warning signs, it is important to define exactly what lymphoma is. Characterized by abnormal behavior in the cells that are produced by the body, lymphoma develops as a result of an overgrowth of cells. Unlike the cells in a healthy individual, lymphoma cells do not respond to the brain's signal to stop growing once their maximum size has been reached. Instead, the cells undergo a process of massive overgrowth, multiplying and sometimes spreading to other parts of the body. This overgrowth of cells denotes cancer. When the overgrowth of cells occurs in the lymphatic system, it is referred to as lymphoma.
Lymphoma cancer can be broken down into two categories of disease, which often have similar initial symptoms. Hodgkin disease often affects the younger population, who will begin showing early symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms and chest. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) is a much broader disease definition that explains cancer cells that have developed, but are a bit different than that of the Hodgkin type. Unfortunately, NHL has a greater effect on the lymph system itself, attacking the white cells and interfering with the body's ability to fight infection.
Aside from the development of swollen lymph nodes in different areas of the body such as the neck, armpits, groin and chest, lymphoma patients may also experience weight loss coupled with a complete loss of appetite, nausea, night sweats, fatigue, body aches, flu-like symptoms, bloating and unexplained pain and pressure in the face.
Individuals that are experiencing any of the above symptoms, along with an overall general feeling of unwellness, should see their doctor. Upon an examination, the doctor should be able to determine whether the symptoms are related to other common illnesses, or if further testing needs to be done. Blood tests are often done to examine kidney and liver functions, and a biopsy may also be conducted to determine if lymphoma is present.
Although swollen lymph nodes are often associated with lymphoma cancers, there are other scenarios that may cause the lymph nodes to swell that are not related to cancer at all. Most commonly, lymph nodes will become swollen when an infection in the body presents itself, or when an autoimmune deficiency is causing a flareup.