While most people are aware of the devastating effects of cancer, many are unfamiliar with specific forms of the disease like Non-Hodgkin disease (lymphoma). In recent years, awareness efforts by many different groups has helped shed light on this devastating form of cancer that affects the cells of the body’s immune system.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (or NHL) attacks the cells of the body’s lymphatic system, including the lymph nodes, vessels, and fluid. It may also affect other parts of the system including the tonsils, spleen, thymus, skin, and certain areas of the stomach.
Lymphoma may begin as an abnormal cell that eventually grows into a tumor and spreads across the lymphatic system. Individuals who are affected by this type of cancer may experience the following symptoms:
- Swelling of the nodes in the armpits, groin, and neck
- Sudden loss of weight
- Unexplained night sweats
- Chest pain and persistent cough
- Abdominal pain
- Extreme tiredness and lack of energy
One of the more troubling factors of NHL is that many of the symptoms can be attributed to other illnesses and minor health issues. Unfortunately, individuals often do not seek the proper medical assistance until it is too late. It is essential to be aware of the symptoms of NHL and to visit a doctor if you discover unusual swelling of the nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin.
In order to diagnose NHL, a doctor will usually perform the following tests:
- Physical examination to identify swollen nodes
- Blood tests to obtain an accurate count of white blood cells
- X-rays to identify swollen nodes in the chest and abdomen
- Biopsy of swollen nodes
It is important that individuals are aware of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma and it’s symptoms. If you believe that you may be affected by NHL, there are many different resources online and in your community to help you deal with this devastating disease.