As with most other cancers, early detection is the main key to the successful treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). However, because there are currently no recommended screening tests, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to possible signs and symptoms associated with the disease.
While there are various signs and symptoms that could suggest NHL, the most common is enlarged lymph nodes. In most cases, these lumps are painless and can be found in areas such as on the side of the neck, in the armpit, or in the groin.
Other symptoms, such as fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss, feeling tired, and swelling in the abdomen are less common and are often attributed to something other than lymphoma. Still, it’s a good idea to have them checked by a doctor, especially if they don’t go away or get worse.
If you have swollen lymph nodes or another symptom that suggests non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your doctor will try to find out what’s causing the problem. Your doctor will first ask about your personal and family medical history. He or she will also perform a physical examination, focusing specifically on your lymph nodes, liver, and spleen. If there are signs of an infection, you may be prescribed an antibiotic to see if that relieves the swelling. If not, and your doctor suspects lymphoma, other tests will be recommended.
If cancer is found, the following tests may be done to study the cancer cells:
After diagnostic tests are done, your doctor will take time to go over the results with you. If the diagnosis is NHL, these results will also help your doctor determine your specific subtype of NHL as well as the stage.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, visit our guide for newly diagnosed lymphoma patients.