Cancer cells in lymphoma mainly gather in lymph nodes — small structures present along blood vessels. As the cancer cells grow and multiply, the lymph nodes enlarge and form lumps. Most of the time, this cancer is detected as painless lumps in the neck, armpits or groin. Several other warning signs and symptoms of lymphoma include fever, weight loss and sweating at night. Lymphoma can also affect other organs of the body (besides lymph nodes) and give rise to a variety of symptoms that bring an individual to a doctor.
The warning signs of lymphoma are so subtle that it may take some time before you realize that there is anything seriously wrong.
Painless lumps in your neck, armpits or groin – This is the most common symptom and often the only one. These are enlarged lymph nodes. Most people first notice these lumps while bathing or changing, or they may be first felt by your partner. Enlarged nodes are not always a sign of lymphoma.
Weight loss – Weight loss usually occurs rapidly for no known reason. Often an individual can lose ten to fifteen pounds over a couple of months.
Excessive sweating at night – This unique situation may be quite bothersome. You may wake up at night drenched in sweat without any apparent reason. Itchiness all over your body – Another unique situation, full-body itching is related to the secretion of some special chemicals from the lymphoma cells.
Loss of appetite – As lymphomas spread within your body and grow in size, many individuals feel a considerable loss in their appetite, further accelerating weight loss. Weight loss of more than 10% is one of the B-symptoms of lymphoma.
A feeling of weakness – As cancer cells are always growing, they use up more of the body’s nutrients, leaving the body with less. This makes you feel weaker.
Diagnosis of Lymphoma Cancer
|Lymphangiogram : A dye, injected into the lymphatic vessels, enables the lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels to be seen more clearly using X-rays.
|Gallium (Radioisotope) Scan : Radioactive gallium is injected into a blood vessel and it circulates throughout the body and may collect in a tumor. The body is then scanned from several different angles and this test can be very useful with Hodgkin´s lymphoma.
|Blood Tests : Can determine abnormal levels of red and white cells.
| Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy : Bone marrow is obtained inserting a long, thin needle into a large bone and collecting a small sample of marrow. The skin, tissue and surface of the bone are numbed with a local anesthetic first.
|Biopsy : Taking a piece of tissue from an area of suspected cancer to examine the white cells under a microscope.
|CT Scan : A 3D X-ray picture is taken from different angles around the body. The pictures are then combined using a computer. There is concern that too many CT scans can actually cause cancer.
| PET Scan : PET images provide information about how tissues function. PET scans radioactive atom containing glucose solution. A special camera can detect the radioactivity.
- Chemotherapy – Drugs that are administered as infusions in your veins or as pills. Common chemotherapy schedules include ABVD, R-CHOP and CHOP.
- Radiotherapy – High energy rays that are directed at the tumor. Radiotherapy can be delivered over small areas (involved field radiation ) or large areas (extended field radiation).
- Antibody therapy (also called biological therapy) – Using drugs like Rituximab that target special molecules on the surface of cancer cells.
- Bone marrow or stem cell transplant – Using high doses of chemotherapy or radiation to kill all cancer cells while saving the bone marrow with transplantation of marrow or stem cells