Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the body's lymphatic system, which has a vital role in the fight against germs. The system is made up of several organs, including bone marrow, thymus gland, spleen, and lymph nodes. It is also possible for lymphoma to have an impact on other major organs in the body. There are several kinds of lymphoma, which are sorted into two subtypes: Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's.
Thankfully, there are options for lymphoma treatment. Most of the time, patients will undergo a variety of traditional cancer treatments. Examples include radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy for cancer. Bone marrow transplants for lymphoma are also an option. Of course, the best treatment for lymphoma varies based on the specific type and the condition's severity. Patients must also understand their symptoms before deciding on a treatment plan with their doctor.
Chronic fatigue is a major symptom in patients who have had lymphoma for a long time. The symptom is frequently reported in Hodgkin's lymphoma patients. While it is less commonly seen in the other subtype, it has been reported in some studies. Fatigue tends to affect both groups differently, and fatigue levels can change over time. In one study, ninety-nine percent of Hodgkin's lymphoma and ninety-seven percent of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients indicated that they had persistent fatigue after infection. When post-remission patients had health complications, they were more likely to report fatigue.
With non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients, the level of fatigue tended to be steady until they reached around seventy years old. At that point, they became more fatigued over time. The fatigue levels continued increasing with age in Hodgkin's lymphoma patients. Researchers are working to identify the reasons for the fatigue, since survivors seem to experience it regardless of their external health and treatment. Several other factors can also cause chronic fatigue. It may be misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome before the lymphoma diagnosis.
Itchy skin can be another symptom of lymphoma. Constant itching and skin irritation can point to cancer. However, it is more common for it to indicate an allergic reaction or skin sensitivity. Because of this, many doctors do not recognize the true underlying cause for a significant period. In one case, a patient could not get rid of their rash with normal anti-allergy measures, so they took prescribed steroids. While that helped with the visible irritation, there was still an ongoing itch. This, combined with night sweats and fatigue, led to the cancer diagnosis.
An itch by itself is usually not a sign of lymphoma, but it can be. The itching is not always severe, though many individuals do experience uncontrollable sensations. In some cases, it may feel like a burning or stinging sensation. Approximately one out of every three Hodgkin's lymphoma patients deals with itching. In contrast, one out of every ten non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients experiences itching. Patients are most likely to feel it in their lower legs, patches of lymphoma on the skin, and areas close to their lymph nodes. However, some individuals experience it in their entire body.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are a part of the body that helps fight infection. Swollen lymph nodes are not always a cause for concern. In fact, these nodes can swell just because they are doing their job properly. Lymphoma patients present with swelling in the lymph nodes as the most common symptom. However, there are more common reasons that lymph nodes may swell. When an individual's lymph nodes are enlarged, they may be able to feel them below the skin.
In some cases, the lymph nodes may be visible to the naked eye. Some of the most common areas to get visibly swollen nodes are the groin, sides of the neck, and underarms. In most cases, the swelling will not be painful. Lymph nodes may swell because of an infection as well. This allows them to catch debris and bacteria before it moves to other parts of the body. If the lymph nodes work properly, they can help prevent infections from spreading to other areas.
Like the other symptoms on this list, night sweats can be caused by various non-cancerous conditions, such as anxiety or a medication change. However, night sweats are a sign of lymphoma as well. Researchers are still looking into the connection between night sweats and lymphoma. A theory is that these episodes occur when individuals develop a fever. Their body begins sweating to cool itself down. Another theory is that the episodes occur because the cancer cells create certain substances in the patient's body.
With lymphoma, night sweats tend to be serious enough to soak the patient's bed and pajamas. Patients may feel as though they are drenched in liquid. Both Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients can experience these episodes. It is also possible to develop similar symptoms during the day. Individuals can implement certain routine changes to help deal with the sweating. However, most patients will need to make a plan with their doctor.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss can occur as a result of lymphoma. Of course, it is worth noting that it may also be caused by conditions that affect metabolism, such as hyperthyroidism. With this symptom, patients will begin losing a large amount of weight without making any effort to do so. This means that they will not have made any lifestyle or diet changes. Suppose individuals suddenly lose more than five percent of their current body weight in less than twelve months. In that case, they need to talk to a doctor.
Lymphoma patients sometimes lose more than ten percent of their weight in less than half a year. Several factors contribute to the weight loss. The cancer may deplete the patient's energy, and their metabolism may expend energy fighting against the cancer. If a patient's lymphoma progresses quickly and causes serious strain on their body, they are more likely to experience dramatic weight loss.