Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Signs and symptoms

What are the symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

Most children have stage III or IV disease at the time of diagnosis because of the sudden onset of symptoms. The disease can progress quickly from a few days to a few weeks. A child can go from otherwise healthy to having multi-system involvement in a short time period.

Some children with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have symptoms of an abdominal mass and have complaints of abdominal pain, fever, constipation and decreased appetite — due to the pressure and obstruction a large tumor in this area can cause.

Some children with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have symptoms of a mass in their chest and have complaints of respiratory problems, pain with deep breaths (dyspnea), cough and/or wheezing.

Because of the rapid onset of this malignancy, any respiratory symptoms can quickly worsen, causing a life-threatening emergency.

The following are the most common symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; however, each child may experience the symptoms differently:

  • Painless swelling of the lymph nodes in neck, chest, abdomen, underarm or groin.
  • Fever.
  • Sore throat.
  • Fullness in groin area from node involvement.
  • Bone and joint pain.
  • Night sweats.
  • Tiring easily (fatigue).
  • Weight loss/decreased appetite.
  • Itching of the skin.
  • Recurring infections.

The symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your child’s physician for a diagnosis.