NZ Woman's Weekly

About lymphoma

About lymphoma

Martin Crowe’s recent diagnosis with lymphoma has come as a big shock to the Kiwi cricket legend and his family, but he’s one of nearly 900 New Zealanders who get the same awful news every year. Lymphoma is a cancer of cells in the immune system. It is more common than leukaemia, but less tends to be known about it. Because the symptoms can be mistaken for signs of other, less serious illnesses, such as  u or glandular fever, it may not be immediately picked up. The sooner it is discovered and treated, the better the prognosis is likely to be.

Painless lumps
Swollen lymph nodes are the most common symptoms and are often the only symptom for some people. Enlarged lymph nodes may show up in the neck, armpits or groin.

Suddenly shedding kilos for no explainable reason isn’t cause for celebration. With lymphoma, you may lose quite a bit of weight – 5 to 10kg over a few weeks in some cases.

High temperatures are a message from your body that something is wrong. If you have a fever – even a low-grade one – that is continuous or comes and goes over several weeks and doesn’t appear related to an infection (for example a urinary infection), see your doctor about it, especially if you also have swollen glands. It is best to get it checked out.

Night sweats
Commonly a symptom associated with menopause, excessive sweating at night can also be a sign of lymphoma. See your doctor if you wake up at night drenched in sweat for no obvious reason.

All-over itching
This symptom is unique to lymphoma and is due to the lymphoma cells secreting chemicals that cause your skin to itch.

Loss of appetite
Some people lose their appetite as the lymphomas spread within their body and grow in size.

Feeling weak
Growing cancer cells can use up precious nutrients in your body, leaving you feeling weak.

1. Most lymphomas occur in people over 50.

2. There are two types – Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The former is usually diagnosed in people aged 15 to 30.

3. Some lymphomas grow slowly and cause few problems, while others need immediate treatment.

4. Treatments can include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

5. Symptoms depend on where the lymphoma is, for example lymphoma in the chest can cause coughing and breathlessness.

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Carole Middleton

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