5 Symptoms That Might Lead to a Lymphoma Diagnosis

May 7th 2016

The symptoms of lymphoma mimic those of many far less serious diseases and conditions. All versions of lymphoma are typically diagnosed by a biopsy of the enlarged lymph node. If you are experiencing swollen lymph nodes in conjunction with other classic symptoms of lymphoma, see a doctor for a diagnosis.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

One of the key signs of lymphoma is swollen lymph nodes. Sometimes lymph nodes in the neck, under the arm or in the groin swell enough to be visible as small lumps under the skin. Patients often find these swellings themselves. Typically, the swollen lymph nodes are not painful. Sometimes, the swollen lymph nodes are accompanied by fever. However, while swollen lymph nodes are the prime symptom of lymphoma, they also occur with many types of infections.

Unexplained Weight Loss

A person with lymphoma often loses weight rapidly, seemingly for no reason. It's common for patients to lose as much as 15 pounds over just a few months. An unexplained weight loss of 10 percent or more is a symptom that requires a visit to a doctor to test for lymphoma.

Abdominal Symptoms

If the lymphoma is centered in the abdomen area, the entire abdomen can become tender and swollen as a result of swelling lymph nodes. Lymphoma near the spleen can cause it to swell and push into the stomach. As a result, the patient feels full even if he has only eaten a small amount. Abdominal lymphomas can also lead to nausea, vomiting, bowel movement blockage and abdominal pain.

Breathing Difficulties

Lymphoma that has made its home in the chest may press against the windpipe. As a result, symptoms such as shortness of breath or coughing that doesn't go away appear. Patients often feel a sense of heaviness in their chest as well. If a lymphoma in this area affects the superior vena cava, which is the vein carrying blood from the head to the heart, the patient may have extreme difficulty breathing and even pass out. If this occurs, emergency medical intervention is required immediately.

Dermatological Symptoms

Lymphoma can also affect the skin. When this occurs, it often manifests as small, purple bumps under the skin that are itchy and widespread. In addition, secretions from lymphoma cells sometimes cause itching all over the body.


Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. More than 30 different cancers classify as lymphoma, with the primary division being between Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. However, the symptoms for the various types of the disease are very similar. While lymphoma is not contagious, risk factors for the disease include hosting viruses such as hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr and HIV. In addition, those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk for lymphoma.

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