Everybody wants to know what the early symptoms of lymphoma are so that they can catch them early and perhaps even begin treatment early. Most cancer groups stress that the most important aspect of beating cancer is early diagnosis.
While catching cancer early may not be the key to treatment success with some cancers--such as prostate cancer and breast cancer (the jury is still out on whether early diagnosis followed by early treatment is the ideal route)--in lymphoma, early diagnosis generally leads to a favorable outcome.
The Problem with Early Symptoms of Lymphoma
For the most part, many early symptoms are known as "non-specific symptoms", a term you will likely see often. What this term means is that these symptoms are not specific to lymphoma; rather they could indicate a constellation of other illnesses, diseases or minor problems that will go away on their own. Not even a complete blood panel can give a patient a definite indication of whether or not they indicate lymphoma. Only a doctor's exam, followed by the biopsy of a lymph node, can tell you whether or not you have lymphoma.
Nonetheless, let's look at some of the early indicators:
Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck or groin
We all get swollen lymph nodes (especially in the neck) from time to time, and when we do—-and they are painful—-it generally means we are suffering from some sort of illness, and the swollen nodes are a perfectly natural bodily response. However, when the nodes are visibly swollen, they're painless, and they are rubbery to the touch, this could mean other things as well.
Sometimes, patients find themselves coughing when they have no reason to be coughing; this can be indicative of a mediastinal tumor, or a tumor in the chest area. Of course, a chest cough can mean many other things as well.
Unexplained weight loss
Are you losing weight and have no reasonable explanation for it? Has it been going on for several months now, and is it approaching at least ten percent of your former body weight? This could be linked to lymphoma. It could also be an early sign of other cancers or other illnesses.
Losing your appetite? This symptom goes with the last symptom. Appetite loss for no reason is potentially indicative of lymphoma, along with other illnesses, both serious and non-serious.
Are you having fevers or chills that come and go for several months? This could indicate a lymphoma.
Are you having night sweats? Maybe they started out as a minor inconvenience, but now you could describe them as 'drenching'. Drenching night sweats are a symptom of lymphoma. Again, they could indicate other things, but they are also infamous for indicating lymphoma.