Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is responsible for fighting diseases in the body. It is also called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The cause of lymphoma remains unknown, but studies have shown it to be more common in people who have been exposed to certain chemicals, including benzene, or radiation as well as those with compromised immune systems such as from an organ transplant. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of lymphoma so that treatment can begin as early as possible.
When the lymph nodes close to the skin are involved, they may be noticeably swollen. The lymph nodes that are most visible include those in the neck, armpit and groin and above the collarbone.
When lymphoma develops in the brain, symptoms include headaches, changes to the personality, difficulty thinking or moving some parts of the body and possibly seizures.
Abdominal pain or swelling can be symptoms of lymphoma in the stomach area. Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite can also be experienced. The swelling and pain can be the result of the pressure from a tumor or from fluid buildup in the abdomen.
When lymphoma develops in the skin, it can typically be felt and seen. In many cases, patients will appear to have reddish or purplish bumps under the skin, and they may be itchy.
Lymphoma can also develop in areas in the chest cavity, which may cause shortness of breath or a cough. In some cases, the tumor may cause pressure on the superior vena cava, the vein that carries blood to the heart from the head and arms. This is a serious condition that requires immediate attention.
Some symptoms of lymphoma are general signs that can be experienced no matter where the cancer begins. These signs include unexplained weight loss, heavy night sweats, itchiness and fever.
Treatment options for lymphoma include radiation, chemotherapy and biological therapy to kill or slow the growth or cancerous cells. Bone marrow or stem cell transplants are also options.