Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common form of cancer of the lymphatic system, affecting almost 80,000 people this year and claiming the life of almost 21,000 people. Currently there are no effective screening tests for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, however there are a number of early symptoms of the disease which you can look for so that you may catch it early on.
What Is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma accounts for about 4% of all cancers in the United States, affecting men and women of all ages. It is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a system which fights diseases throughout the body. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancerous tumors grow from white blood cells called lymphocytes.
What Are The Early Symptoms Of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Because non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can develop in several different places throughout the body, it can be hard to determine that early symptoms point to the cancer. However, there are some common warning signs that can give you some clues.
The most common early warning sign of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is swollen lymph nodes in which the swelling does not go down. These lymph nodes may be in your neck, armpits, or groin. Despite being swollen, usually these lymph nodes remain painless.
Those who have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the abdomen may find that the area is swollen and painful early on. Those who have the cancer in the intestines may experience constipation due to swelling in area, causing blockages.
Other common early symptoms include night sweats, anemia, fever and chronic fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms persistently, contact your doctor immediately.
It’s also important to determine whether or not you are at risk for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Those with autoimmune diseases are more likely to develop this cancer, as are those who have had an organ transplant.
Research shows that those who have been frequently exposed to certain insecticides and weed-killers may be at higher risk of developing this cancer. There is also evidence that there is a link between those who develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and those who have been exposed to radiation. Those who have received chemotherapy for a previous form of cancer may be at higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma later on.
How Is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Diagnosed And Treated?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above and they are not going away, you may schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine whether or not you have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Most patients will visit a doctor because their lymph nodes are swollen and not going down.
If you are visiting your doctor for swollen lymph nodes, your doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics to see if the swelling goes down. If they remain swollen after antibiotics, he or she will want to take a biopsy of your lymph nodes to check for the cancer. They may also order a blood test to check your blood cell levels, as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma affects one’s levels of red and white blood cells.
Treatment ordered by your doctor will depend on the stage of cancer and size of the tumor, plus your overall state of health. The most common treatment options for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Other popular forms of treatment are stem cell transplants, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
If you are experiencing painless swollen lymph nodes, or other persistent symptoms which are not responding to common medicine, schedule an appointment with your doctor. The earlier that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is diagnosed, the higher the chance that it can be treated effectively.