Do I Have Lymphoma?


A few centuries ago, in his Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope wrote:

"A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing."

Like so much of what Pope wrote long ago, this line is as true today as when he wrote it, especially in the age of information when the dangers of "A little Learning" are borne out every day.

The ease of Googling even the most complex terminology and the amazing access to content regarding the trickiest of medical diagnoses puts it all seemingly at our fingertips. As a result, it might become especially common for us to hop online and simply ask a search engine whether or not we've got an affliction--ranging from symptoms like a lingering bruise to concerns about something as serious as cancer. Phrases like "Do I have lymphoma?" can be easily typed into the search bar.

But even if a world-renowned expert in lymphoma—-like James Armitage, Volker Diehl, or Francine Foss to name a few—-were on the other end of that search engine query and "Do I have lymphoma?" landed in their inbox, they would be unable to give you a definitive answer through the computer screen alone.

Granted, you might list all your symptoms, you might know the lingo, and they might have their suspicions, but no doctor who is worthy of diagnosing cancer would diagnose it without doing a full work-up: consulting a thorough a patient history, conducting an exam, ordering various tests, etc. In sum, a doctor would need to first rule out everything else so that the only explanation left would be to diagnose a form of lymphoma. So if you want a definitive answer to the question "Do I have lymphoma?," you must consult your doctor.

What we can do in the meantime is provide you with some non-specific symptoms that may or may not indicate a form of lymphoma (meaning that in some cases symptoms might indicate other issues unrelated to lymphoma).

Non-Specific Symptoms

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin that are painless when you touch them; in fact they are hard or rubbery to the touch
  • Unexplained weight loss: Over several months you've lost a good ten percent of your body weight for no known reason
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained fevers or chills
  • An unexplained cough
  • Itchiness
  • Drenching night sweats

If you have one of these symptoms, you may have lymphoma. If you have all of them, you may have lymphoma. If you have none of them, you might still have lymphoma.

Relying on the internet for an answer, however, means you'll never know for sure. It's better to know than it is not to, so we can't urge you strongly enough to bring these questions, symptoms, and concerns to your physician as soon as you become aware of them.

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