Lymph node cancer affects the lymphatic system in the body. To know what are some of the symptoms of this dreaded disease, read on…
The immune system is the body’s natural defense mechanism which protects the body from a myriad of infections and diseases. This system consists of the lymph glands, spleen, thymus and the bone marrow that are connected with each other by a network of vessels called the lymphatic system. Lymph, a fluid which consists of lymphocytes, also known as the white blood cells, is transported to all parts of the body through the lymphatic vessels. Sometimes the white blood cells tend to behave in a peculiar manner and begin to multiple abnormally. This may lead to lymph node cancer or lymphoma as a result of the uncontrolled multiplication of the cells in the lymph nodes.
Symptoms of Lymphoma
Cancer of the lymph nodes is more predominant in men rather than women, for reasons unknown. The symptoms are exhibited by affected individuals of all age groups. There are two types, namely Hodgkin’s Disease and Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The symptoms of both these disorders are more or less similar. Some of the following signs can be observed in the patient in order to detect the presence of this life-threatening disease.
Swelling in the Lymph Nodes
One of the most common signs of lymphoma is a swelling in the lymph nodes. These swellings appear in the arm pits, abdomen, groin and also in sides of the neck. These enlarged bumps may feel hard when touched. They even become tender when affected by infections. To avoid risk any kind of lump in the body must be reported immediately to a health care practitioner.
In some individuals these swellings may be painful if they become infected. The bumps may become tender and may cause slight pain when touched. The swollen lymph nodes in the abdomen may become painful while consuming alcohol. As the cancer progresses to other parts of the body, especially in the spleen, it may lead to the inflammation of the organ and the patient may experience a feeling of tenderness in the abdomen and bloating sensation. The patient may also suffer from back pain, especially in the lower region.
Certain individuals suffering from lymphoma also suffer from a low-grade fever. The fever can also be caused due to a bacterial or viral infection, which may release certain chemicals in the body and increase the body temperature. This fever, which is also the result of a weakened immune system can lead to chills, night sweats and weakness in the muscles, accompanied by pain.
If the cancer has spread to the abdominal region, several symptoms can be observed. One of the main symptoms is loss of appetite due to swollen abdomen and intestines which gives a feeling of fullness. Water retention (or edema) and a difficulty in bowel movements also tend to lead to loss of appetite. This in turn may result in unexplained weight loss, indigestion and nausea, accompanied by vomiting. These symptoms usually occur in the later stages of the cancer and may also worsen if the cancer spreads to other groups of lymph nodes.
Reduced Cognitive Ability
At times, the lymph node cancer may also spread to the brain, which may result in impaired cognitive functions. The patient may experience general body weakness, headache, ranging from mild to severe, and seizures. He may also show signs of changes in personality (like becoming irritable or developing apathy) and a difficulty in focusing.
Some other indications include a feeling of swollen chest, loss of consciousness, cough, followed by chest pain, itching sores and redness of the skin. One of the lymphoma symptoms in children as well as in adults is shortness of breath.
Treating Lymph Node Cancer
Before administering treatment, the doctor may advice the patient to undergo a series of tests like X-rays of the abdomen and chest, and also blood tests. Other tests include, biopsies, MRI and CT scan. The treatment depends on the stages of the cancer. In the initial stages, certain medications may be prescribed to dissolve the lumps. In the later stages, the patient may have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation. Though this cancer cannot be prevented, regular medical screening is advisable, if there is a family history of lymph node cancer and even otherwise, to reduce the chances of contracting this deadly disease.
These were some of the symptoms of lymphoma. The survival rate depends on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed, the severity of the condition and the patient’s response to the treatment. If any of the symptoms persist for long period of time, consult a doctor who may prescribe medications or any other methods of treatment to control the spread of this disease and thus increase the life expectancy of the patient.