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- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma facts
- What is non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
- What causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
- What are non-Hodgkin's lymphoma risk factors?
- What are non-Hodgkin's lymphoma symptoms and signs?
- How do physicians diagnose non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
- What are the types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and how is non-Hodgkin's lymphoma staging determined?
- What is the treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
- What is the prognosis and survival rate for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
- Where can people find more information about non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
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What are non-Hodgkin's lymphoma symptoms and signs?
Signs and symptoms of NHL include the following:
- Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
- Unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
- Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain
- Weakness and tiredness that don't go away (fatigue)
- Abdominal pain or swelling, or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
- Itching of the skin
How do physicians diagnose non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
Physical exam: A doctor will complete a physical examination with a special emphasis on palpating the lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, and groin and establishing if they are swollen. He or she will also try to find out if the spleen or liver are swollen. In most cases, swollen lymph nodes are signs of infection (rather than lymphoma), and a doctor will try to establish if there are any other signs of infection and what the source of the infection could be.
Medical history: A doctor will ask questions in regard to one's past medical history and about risk factors for NHL.
Blood tests: A complete blood count (CBC) will usually be performed to check the number of white blood cells. Additional tests might include a lactate dehydrogenase level (can be elevated in lymphoma). Additional tests might be performed to rule out an infection causing the swollen lymph nodes.
Imaging procedures: A chest X-ray or CT scan of the chest or neck might help detect the presence of tumors or more enlarged lymph nodes. Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning is a newer modality to help detect NHL.
Biopsy: A doctor might recommend a biopsy of lymph nodes to diagnose the cause of the swelling. The samples will then be given to a pathologist who will review the sample under the microscope and establish a diagnosis.
There are three ways to diagnose a lymph node: removal of the entire lymph node (excisional biopsy); partial removal of a lymph node (incisional biopsy); fine-needle aspiration (using a thin needle to remove some lymph node tissue) is often not diagnostic as not enough tissue is removed for the pathologist to make a diagnosis.
Bone marrow biopsy: A bone marrow biopsy can establish the spread of the disease. This involves the insertion of a needle into bone to obtain bone marrow. In adults, the most common site for this biopsy is the pelvic bone.