Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system and is made up of a network of lymph vessels and glands as well as a number of organs.
Clear fluid called lymph flows through the lymphatic system and contains infection-fighting white blood cells known as lymphocytes.
There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, each affecting a different type of lymphocytes. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common in young people than non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and mostly affects young people between 15 and 35. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the second most common type of cancer found in young people. Hodgkin’s lymphoma can spread through the body quickly. However, despite this it’s also one of the most easily treated types of cancer. Almost all young people with Hodgkin’s lymphoma will fully recover.
Lymphoma is treated with chemotherapy and also sometimes radiotherapy. Steroids can also be used.
Signs and symptoms
The following could be a warning sign of lymphoma:
- A swelling in the lymph node, usually in the neck, armpit, or groin
Advanced Lymphoma symptoms:
- Unexplained tiredness or fatigue
- Heavy night sweats
- Unexplained, significant weight loss
- A persistent cough or feeling of breathlessness
- Persistent itching of the skin all over the body
- Trouble getting rid of infections
Other symptoms will depend on where in the body the enlarged lymph glands are. For example, if the lymphoma is in the abdomen (tummy), you may have abdominal pain or indigestion.
Real life story: Fay, 15
I started to lose a lot of weight and was very tired all the time, I just had no energy. I was ill over Christmas and woke up on New Year’s Eve and couldn’t move my left arm. I went to hospital and they told me to go back if it got worse. The following day I couldn’t breathe properly and the pain had got worse. I went back and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in four places.
I had the lump removed and eight months of chemo. Luckily I responded well to my treatment.
I missed a lot of school but I carried on going because I wanted to be normal. I didn’t like not being at school, I wanted to be like everyone else. It was hard to catch up when I went back properly in year 11 for my GCSE’s.
My hair started falling out while I was at school after the first few weeks of treatment so I cut it short and then shaved it off altogether. I felt really bad about not having hair. I wore wigs and wouldn’t be seen without them, I was very self conscious.
My mum had cancer twice before I did, so I knew a bit about it, but I was still very scared. Before I was diagnosed I had a feeling it was cancer, I told my family and they told me to think positively. A lot of the people around me didn’t really understand. I learned from my experience that the people who stand by me even when I push them away are the people I want in my life. It’s made me a stronger person.