In many cases, non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children may not cause symptoms until it has grown or spread. Most children have stage III or IV disease at the time of diagnosis because of the sudden onset of symptoms and the fact that these lymphomas tend to grow very quickly. The disease can sometimes progress quickly from a few days to a few weeks. A child can go from otherwise healthy to having multisystem involvement in a short time period.
Some children with non-Hodgkin lymphoma have symptoms of an abdominal mass and have complaints of abdominal pain, fever, constipation and decreased appetite due to the pressure and obstruction a large tumor in this area can cause.
Some children with non-Hodgkin lymphoma have symptoms of a mass in their chest and have complaints of respiratory problems, pain with deep breaths (dyspnea), cough and/or wheezing. Lymphomas in the chest can also press on a main blood vessel (the superior vena cava), which can cause swelling and a bluish coloration in the head and arms. If left unchecked, it can also affect the brain and may even be life-threatening.
The following are the most common symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. However, each child may experience the symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Painless swelling of the lymph nodes in neck, chest, abdomen, underarm or groin
- Sore throat
- Fullness in groin area from node involvement
- Bone and joint pain
- Night sweats
- Tiring easily (fatigue)
- Weight loss/decreased appetite
- Itching of the skin
- Recurring infections
The symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.