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Symptoms of lymphoma

A common findng is an enlarged lymph node. The symptoms caused by this vary depending on where the node is located:

  • For lymph nodes near the surface of the body, for example the neck, axilla, or groin, there will be swelling in the area. This is often relatively a painless and, and there is usually no sign of infection in the area which drains to the node.
  • A retroperitoneal node in the area of the kidneys/ureter may prevent passage of urine. Symptoms of this are little urine production, flank or back pain, nausea, and symptoms of renal impairment, such as edema and hypertension.
  • A tumor in the bowel can cause bowel obstruction leading to nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, change in bowel patterns, and pain in the abdomen.
  • A tumor in the thymus or enlarged nodes in the mediastinum can cause pressure on the trachea causing coughing, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of suffocation. The tumor can also cause obstruction of the superior vena cava causing dilatation of neck veins, facialedema, and venous congestion of the ipsilateral arm.
  • Nodes in the biliary ducts can cause restriction of biliary drainage with jaundice, nausea, and pain under the right costal arch.

Lymphoma infiltration of other organs can cause a series of symptoms. Many of these may not give rise to an immediate suspicion of lymphoma, but suggest a pathological process in the involved organ. Further work-up of this organ will then cause suspicion of lymphoma.

  • Infiltration of bone marrow can cause pancytopenia with low granulocytes and tendency for infection, low hemoglobin with anemia symptoms, and low platelets with tendency of bleeding.
  • Infiltration of the central nervous system can cause focal neurological symptoms. Lymphoma in the spinal canal (either primary or infiltrating from vertebral bodies or paraspinal soft tissue) can also cause pressure on the spinal cord/cauda equina with symptoms of lesions of the spinal cord.
  • Infiltration in the liver can cause symptoms of liver failure with jaundice, nausea, and pain under the right costal arch.
  • Infiltration in pleura or peritoneum can cause accumulation of pleural fluid with pain in the thorax, coughing, dyspnea, or ascites with increase in abdominal circumference.

General defined symptoms of lymphoma are for example, fatigue, B-symptoms (fever, weight loss, night sweats) and sometimes unexplainable itching.

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