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Can Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Be Found Early?

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At this time, there are no widely recommended screening tests for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). (Screening tests or exams are used to look for a disease in people who have no symptoms.) Still, in some cases, lymphoma can be found early.

The best way to find lymphoma early is to pay attention to possible signs and symptoms.

One of the most common symptoms is enlargement of one or more lymph nodes, causing a lump or bump under the skin that is usually not painful. This is most often on the side of the neck, in the armpit, or in the groin region.

Other symptoms can include fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss, feeling tired, and swelling in the abdomen. Most often, these symptoms are caused by something other than lymphoma, but it’s important to have them checked by a doctor, especially if they don’t go away or get worse.

Careful, regular medical checkups are important for people with known risk factors for NHL (such as HIV infection, having an organ transplant or an autoimmune disease, or prior cancer treatment). These people do not often get lymphoma, but they and their doctors should be aware of possible symptoms and signs of lymphoma.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Almaimani J, Tsoumpas C, Feltbower R, Polycarpou I. FDG PET/CT versus bone marrow biopsy for diagnosis of bone marrow involvement in non-Hodgkin lymphoma: A systematic review. App Sci. 2022;12(2):540.

Freedman AS, Friedberg JW, Aster JC. Clinical presentation and initial evaluation of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. UpToDate. 2023. Accessed at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-presentation-and-initial-evaluation-of-non-hodgkin-lymphoma on November 30, 2023.

Steinbuss G, Kriegsmann M, Zgorzelski C, et al. Deep learning for the classification of non-Hodgkin lymphoma on histopathological images. Cancers. 2021;13(10):2419. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13102419

Last Revised: February 15, 2024

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