Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a disease that impacts more than 74,000 people each year, making it one of the most common types of cancers, according to cancer.org. But do you know the signs? There are more than 30 different types of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, all of which can quietly manifest and be hard to spot until cancer becomes very advanced. This makes it all the more important to know and understand the symptoms of the condition.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma makes up nearly 4% of all cancer diagnosis’ in the US, and your chances of developing the disease are one in 47. The disease affects the body’s lymphatic system – a part of the immune system that helps to flush out toxins and waste from your lymph nodes and blood. This is the part of your body that fights diseases. Your body has over 500 “bean-shaped” lymph nodes located in your neck, armpits, groin, stomach, pelvis, and chest, according to the Cancer Treatment Centres of America.
Early detection is key to fighting the disease, which is why is it important to be aware of the impending signs that you may have Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. If you have one of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. You may just have an infection. It’s always best to play it safe and consult your doctor if you are experiencing any of the below symptoms. A medical professional will be able to run the appropriate tests to determine whether or not you have Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Here are the major Non-Hodgkin lymphoma warning signs to look out for.
You get frequent chills.
You might always rock a sweater at the office, but if you are experiencing chills on a regular basis it’s time to call your doctor. Chills can be a sign of several different ailments, and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is one of them.
You bruise easily or get cuts that bleed regularly.
White blood cells are responsible for helping wounds such as bruises heal quickly. These cells multiply and collect in your lymph nodes.
When you develop Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the cancer targets your white blood cells. This can reduce the number of white blood cells in your bloodstream, resulting in cuts that won’t close up or bruises that appear from a minor bump.
Your lymph nodes are swollen or enlarged.
When Non-Hodgkin lymphoma strikes, you may notice that your lymph nodes become larger than normal. The swollen lymph nodes will likely be free of pain, but that’s not a reason to ignore them. Give your doctor a call to have he or she check out your swollen lymph nodes.
You feel full after a very small meal.
If you are unable to eat a normal serving of food as you usually may do, this can be cause for concern. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can cause you to feel full even after just a few bites. Additionally, an upset stomach, vomiting, and stomach pain can also be other signs that you may have.
You frequently get really bad infections.
When you get sick, you may notice that the lymph nodes in your neck swell for a day or two and return back to normal. If you notice an enlarged mass that does not go away after several days, this can be a sign of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a result of an infection.
According to a study published by the American Association of Cancer Research, certain viruses and bacteria (like the Epstein-Barr virus and HIV) can increase your chances of acquiring Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
You are losing weight without trying.
If you notice that you are suddenly losing a lot of weight at once – without going out of your way to diet or exercise – this could be a sign of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Abrupt weight loss is not normal and can be an indicator that something is wrong internally.
You have a lot of chest pain or pressure.
When the lymph nodes in your chest become swollen due to Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, it can cause you to experience chest pain or pressure due to the enlarged size of the glands. Coughing is also another sign of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. While these symptoms can also be the cause of other ailments, it is important to have them checked out by a doctor.
Your stomach feels enlarged.
You have lymph nodes in your abdomen. If one of these lymph nodes becomes infected, it can grow in size due to a build-up of fluid by tissue in the abdomen. If you notice that your stomach is enlarged, almost like you are pregnant, call your doctor to schedule an appointment.
You are experiencing “B symptoms.”
The American Cancer Society refers to “B symptoms” as having a fever that comes and goes over the course of a few days or weeks but no signs of an infection.
Other “B symptoms” include waking up soaking wet with sweat (aka night sweats), and losing at least 10% of your body weight over a six-month period when you haven’t been dieting or exercising. Some people with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma may experience these additional symptoms.
You’re constantly tired.
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in people that have Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. If you are getting a full eight hours of sleep each night and still feel like you are lagging, give your doctor a call. Especially if you are experiencing fatigue combined with other common signs of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
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