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Supporting people with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Information for newly diagnosed patients

Symptoms and diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

When you were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, what made you go to the doctor in the first place? You might have been feeling tired, weak and run down. Or maybe you noticed a lump in your neck or armpit that would not go away. Or perhaps you were losing weight or sweating a lot at night.

One of the problems doctors face when trying to diagnose non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is that these symptoms are also often seen in other conditions.

Even swollen lymph nodes are fairly common in people with infections such as the common cold or influenza. The difference with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is that the symptoms don’t go away.

Therefore your doctor needs to do some careful tests to find out exactly what is wrong and be sure of the diagnosis. For example, blood tests give an indication of how ill you are, while X-rays and scans will show if there are any more swollen lymph nodes, other than those that can be felt, and whether any other organs are involved, such as the spleen.

Fine needle aspiration of swollen lymph nodes will tell the doctor exactly what type of lymphocytes are affected, while a bone marrow biopsy will indicate whether the bone marrow has been affected.

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