In most cases, patients consult their doctors if they have painless swelling in the neck, armpits, groin or abdomen. Sometimes the swelling, or the tumor, occurs in other organs such as the skin or stomach (extranodal lymphoma), either as a first symptom or a sign appearing later in the disease.
Like most cancers, lymphoma is best treated when found early.
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight, nausea, vomiting, indigestion or pain in the abdomen
- A feeling of bloating
- Itching, bone pain, headaches, constant coughing and abnormal pressure and congestion in the face, neck and upper chest
- Fatigue and flu-like body aches
- Fatigue resulting from anemia
- Night sweats, recurring high-grade fever or constant low-grade fever
Causes and Risk Factors
Cancers in the mouth and oropharnyx often spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. There are 600 lymph nodes in the body. Approximately 200 nodes are in the head and neck.
The lymphatic channels are similar to blood vessels, but the channels transport lymph instead of blood. Lymph is a liquid that carries white blood cells throughout the body to fight infection. Lymph can also transport cancer cells to other parts of the body. The lymph nodes act like filters and trap infected material. The infected material can make the nodes enlarge.
The cause of lymphoma is still not known, but it is not considered hereditary. Most lymphomas occur between the ages of 40 and 70 years. Hodgkin disease, considered the most curable form of lymphoma, often occurs in young adults or the elderly. Possible triggers for lymphoma include:
- Genetic factors
- Certain infections or environmental factors.
- Exposure to herbicides and high doses of radiation (including aggressive radiation therapy).
- Certain viruses (human retroviruses like HTLV-1 and to some extent, the Epstein-Barr virus are also suspected).
- AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). These patients require specialized treatment.
- Abnormalities in the genetic materials called chromosomes and the body's immune response.
Although the disease has been reported in patients who live or work physically close to each other (clustering), no evidence exists that indicate the disease is infectious.