Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Lymphoma - Non-Hodgkin - Childhood

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 9/2012
Symptoms and Signs

Children with NHL may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, children with NHL do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your child’s doctor. Your child’s doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms your child is experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long your child has been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.

The symptoms of NHL may vary depending on where the cancer starts and what organ is involved.

General symptoms may include:

  • Swelling or lumps in the lymph nodes located in the abdomen, groin, neck, or underarm.  Swollen lymph nodes may join together to form a mass or tumor.
  • Fever that is not associated with an illness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sweating and chills
  • Extreme fatigue (tiredness)

Symptoms related to tumor location may include:

  • A swollen belly, caused by a large tumor in the abdomen
  • Painful urination and bowel movements, caused by fluid build-up and a tumor around the kidneys and intestines
  • Difficulty breathing, caused by a tumor in the chest (mediastinum) near the windpipe

A serious symptom of NHL is superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS). In SVCS, a tumor in the chest behind the breastbone blocks the flow of blood in the vein that carries blood from the head and arms to the heart. This causes the head and arms to swell. SVCS is life-threatening and requires emergency medical attention.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your child’s health care team about symptoms your child experiences, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

© 2005-2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.

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