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Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Symptoms appear as Non-Hodgkin lymphoma progresses. These symptoms can be caused by other, less serious conditions, like an infection. It is still important to see the doctor. Early detection and treatment improve outcomes for both cancer and other health problems.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

The most common symptom is a painless swelling of the lymph nodes. Swelling can occur in lymph nodes anywhere in the body. The most common are lymph nodes in the neck, collarbone, armpit, or groin. Swollen lymph nodes can be felt just under the skin. They may change in size over time. If the lymph nodes shrink, it does not mean the problem is gone. In general, a person should call the doctor if swelling lasts longer than 2 weeks.

Swollen Lymph Nodes.

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Other Symptoms

As lymphoma progresses it may cause:

  • A fever that lasts or keeps coming back—not due to another problem
  • Severe, recurring night sweats
  • Intense itching, especially after a shower or exposure to heat—may be with reddish or purplish lumps under the skin
  • Tiredness—which may be caused by low red blood cell counts ( anemia )
  • Bruising or bleeding—which may be caused by low platelet counts
  • Persistent and frequent infections—which may be caused by low white blood cell counts
  • Loss of hunger and unplanned weight loss

Swollen lymph nodes may also press on nearby blood vessels, nerves, or other structures. This pressure may interfere with normal function and cause a variety of symptoms. Possible symptoms by location of swollen lymph nodes include:

  • Belly:
    • Swelling and tenderness
    • Feeling full after eating a small amount
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Problems passing stool (poop)
  • Chest:
    • Cough
    • Chest pain
    • Problems breathing
    • Swelling in the face and neck (may be with or without redness)
  • Pelvic area—problems passing urine (pee), which can lead to kidney disease
  • Brain or spinal cord—headache, weakness, numbness, speech problems, vision problems, or personality changes
  • Bones—pain


  • Adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment (PDQ)—patient version. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/patient/adult-nhl-treatment-pdq.
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/non-hodgkin-lymphoma-nhl.
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/lymphomas/non-hodgkin-lymphomas.
  • Signs and symptoms. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: http://www.lls.org/lymphoma/non-hodgkin-lymphoma/signs-and-symptoms.
  • Signs and symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-hodgkin-lymphoma/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.