Symptoms & Risk Factors

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Symptoms & Risk Factors

The symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may be confused with symptoms caused by other conditions that are not related to cancer. See a doctor if you have symptoms that concern you.


Symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:

  • Painless swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, groin, chest, or abdomen
  • Unexplained fever, weight loss, or night sweats—sometimes called “B symptoms”
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Red bumps on the skin
  • Swelling in the face, neck, or upper chest caused by lymphoma pressing on the major vein that drains blood from these areas
  • Feeling of fullness in the abdomen from an enlarged liver, spleen, or lymph nodes
  • Abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and indigestion

Symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can come on very quickly. Some people are diagnosed with the disease within days to weeks of getting symptoms. Some types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can come on slowly over several months.

Risk Factors

Doctors do not know what causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There are several factors that may increase risk. Keep in mind that many people who get the disease have none of the risk factors. And most people with the risk factors do not develop the disease.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common in men than in women, and the risk increases with age. Also, you may be at higher risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma if any of these is true:

  • Your immune system is weakened by an inherited disease, autoimmune disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or drugs given because you had an organ transplant.
  • You have been infected with human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-1), Epstein-Barr virus (which causes mononucleosis), Helicobacter pylori (a bacterium that causes ulcers), or hepatitis C virus.
  • You were exposed to certain chemicals, such as ingredients in pesticides, herbicides, solvents, or fertilizers.