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Non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms and signs

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Non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes (glands), extreme tiredness, chest pain, and cough or breathlessness.

On this page, we talk about the general symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There are different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and we have information on the symptoms of these specific types:

We also have information on Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms. Some of the symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma are similar to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but it is a different disease and is treated differently.

Common symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

People will have different symptoms depending on the type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma they have, and how it affects them individually. It’s unlikely that anyone with non-Hodgkin lymphoma will have all the symptoms listed here.

Most people with these symptoms won’t have non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But some people will, and the sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can get the right care.

Even if you only have one symptom, if it’s unexplained, goes on for a long time, or is unusual for you, you should contact your GP.

Common symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • swollen glands in the neck, armpit or groin area, or anywhere you have glands (lymph nodes) – usually these aren’t painful
  • extreme tiredness – tiredness that doesn’t go away even after rest or sleep (fatigue)
  • chest pain, cough or breathlessness if there’s a swelling in your chest
  • feeling uncomfortably full or feeling sick caused by a swelling in your stomach area
  • itching either widespread or in one place
  • bone pain if the lymphoma affects the bone marrow inside your bones
  • skin rashes or lumps
  • infections that are frequent or last a long time
  • unusual bleeding or bruising caused by a low number of platelets – the blood cells that cause the blood to clot.

B symptoms

These three symptoms, called B symptoms, are also symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • high fever (38°C or higher)
  • weight loss of a tenth or more of your previous weight over the past 6 months, when you haven’t been trying to lose weight
  • night sweats which drench your nightclothes and bedding.

Whether or not someone has B symptoms is a guide to how much the lymphoma has developed. This helps doctors assess the stage of the lymphoma and decide on the best treatment.

Other symptoms

A specific type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Waldenström macroglobulinaemia causes changes in your blood which can lead to:

  • headaches and dizziness
  • confusion
  • nose bleeds
  • blurred vision
  • kidney problems
  • numbness in the legs and feet.

When should I go to the doctor?

If you have only one symptom that you can’t explain, that goes on for a long time, or that’s unusual for you, book an appointment with your GP.

If your GP suspects lymphoma, they will order tests, probably starting with a simple blood test.

If you suddenly feel very unwell at any time, get medical help straight away by calling 999 or going to A&E.

Free blood cancer symptoms guide

Our free blood cancer symptoms guide is a pocket-sized reminder of the symptoms of blood cancer and provides space for you to record any that you might experience. If you need to get checked out, it also includes things to think about before your appointment and questions to ask your doctor.

Worried about anything or have questions?

If you have any questions, worries, or just need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to contact our Support Services Team via phone or email.

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More information about non-Hodgkin lymphoma

We have more information on these specific types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma:

We're here for you if you want to talk

0808 2080 888

[email protected]