With modern medical technology, more cancers are being discovered, diagnosed, and treated. Almost everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer. It is because of this; everyone becomes alarmed with any bumps on the body. Not all bumps mean cancer, but it is important to know how to recognize lymph node cancer symptoms so that medical attention can be sought.

Cancer in the lymph nodes is also known as lymphoma, which is a serious but treatable cancer. Like most cancers with early treatment, the higher the survival and success rate will be.

5 Common Symptoms and How to Detect Them

Lymphoma (lymph node cancer) is a term that encompasses a number of conditions. Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the two most-common types of lymphoma, are caused when white blood cells grow abnormally and live longer than healthy white blood cells.

Lymphoma, which takes on many different forms, is essentially blood cancer. It is not limited to affecting only the very young or elderly. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is estimated to affect 2.4 out of every 100,000 people between the ages of 20 and 24. As with many other conditions, there is a better chance of treating lymphoma when caught early.

Regardless of age, everyone should be familiar with the common symptoms of lymphoma and how to detect them.

1. Swollen Lymph Nodes

As the name suggests, lymphoma often occurs in one’s lymph nodes. If you feel that the lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin are protruding more than usual, (they don’t have to be necessarily tender or sore), go see a doctor. While it is true that many conditions can cause swollen lymph nodes, in general it is still an indication of an immune system that is compromised in some way, so seeing a doctor will always be a smart move.

Additional Information – Swollen Lymph Nodes

2. Rapid Weight Loss

If you are losing weight rapidly without explanation, 15 to 20 pounds within a couple of months, for example, you may want to see a doctor about the possibility of lymphoma. Like other cancers, lymphoma can sap the nutrients in your body and put a toll on it quickly, causing the weight loss. Just like with swollen lymph nodes, conditions other than lymphoma can cause unexplained weight loss, but you should see a doctor about it.

3. Night Sweats

Excessive sweating at night without explanation is another symptom of lymphoma. If you experience severe night sweats to the degree that your sheets and pajamas are completely wet and need to be changed, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible. Night sweats are caused by extreme changes in your body temperature as a result of a compromised immune system.

4. Unusual Itchiness Anywhere on the Body

Itchiness over your entire body is a relatively distinctive symptom of lymphoma. Caused by the secretion of chemicals specific to lymphoma, if this symptom emerges with any of the other symptoms mentioned above, there is cause for concern.

5. Lack of Energy

General lack of energy can be another indication of lymphoma. Like other cancers, it can take a large toll on the body, draining it of nutrients and significantly limiting normal bodily function. Unexplained weakness and lack of energy are often a sign that something has gone wrong.

While all of these symptoms can be explained by other conditions when presented individually, if two or more of them appear, then it is definitely important to not take any risks and to see a doctor immediately. Lymphoma has a relatively good cure rate if caught early, so staying alert and paying attention to your body, no matter what your age, is essential.

Diagnosing From Symptoms

Simply examining the lymph nodes yourself will not be able to determine if the swollen node is a lymph node cancer symptom, the body reacting to an infection, or another health issue. A doctor will consider all symptoms and may monitor the swollen lymph node. If cancer is still suspected as the cause of the swollen node, a biopsy will be done. Removing the lymph node is the only way to do this. When the diagnosis is lymphoma, the doctor will determine which type of lymphoma it is.

The Two Types

There are two types of lymph node cancers, and both have similar lymph node cancer symptoms. Lab tests are necessary to determine the type of lymphoma. These are the two types of lymph node cancer:

  1. Hodgkin’s Disease
    A rare lymphoma that is more common in people who have a family history of this type of cancer. It usually is diagnosed in males between 15-34 years old and males over 55 years old. Hodgkin’s lymphomas commonly begin in lymph nodes in the upper torso (neck, underarms, or chest) and represents about 1% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. The number of cases is decreasing.
  2. Non-Hodgkins Disease
    A cancer of the lymph nodes is the 6th most-common type of cancer in the United States. Thu number of cases is increasing.


Many lymph node cancer symptoms are similar to symptoms of other illnesses and often are not a sign of cancer. When the symptoms persist, or you have a concern, it is important to consult a healthcare professional because early diagnoses increases the success of the treatment.