Q. Please explain about non-Hodgkin lymphoma in detail.

Answered by
Dr. Prakash H. Muddegowda
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Oct 30, 2015 and last reviewed on: Feb 11, 2019

Hi doctor,

What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma? What can cause NHL? Which age group is more commonly affected? Can NHL occur without any family history? Does all left supraclavicular (Virchow's node) node is associated with lymphoma? Can single small but persistent size of lymph node enough for NHL? Why my lymph node is not getting bigger in its size?

How fever is related to cancer/NHL? Can NHL/lymphoma/any other form of cancer occur without any symptoms such as fever, weight loss or night sweat? In NHL, the lymph node can develop inside a chest, in the abdomen and inner side of the body. How can we feel them? Which kind of symptoms occurs if they are in? Please explain.

In NHL, How to know the swelling of stomach, spleen, and liver as it is not visible outside? Can a cough occur in NHL? In NHL/lymphoma, can we get any clue from the change (decrease/increase) in the level of blood cells such as WBC and platelets?



Welcome to

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is a group of lymphomas, which does not fall into the classification of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Anything which does not fit the criteria of Hodgkin's is NHL.

NHL can be caused due to a viral infection like Epstein Barr Virus, radiation, immune-modifying drugs, etc. Any age group can be affected, but particularly above 50 years. Yes, it can occur even without any previous family history.

No, it can rise in infections from surrounding areas or even another type of cancers. Virchow's node is one classically for gastric cancer metastasis to that node.

Single lymph node, even if persistent is not a classical sign of lymphoma. Usually increase in size, multiple lymph nodes involvement and at 2 or more sites like axillae, femoral, etc. Single site, single lymph node which is persistent, is usually due to chronic inflammation.

Due to chronic inflammation over a long time, intra-lymph node fibrosis (just like scar tissue) must have formed, which would not allow it to reduce in size. So, it will remain the same size. If there is no change in size, then nothing to worry about.

Cancer particularly NHL can reduce immunity and increase the possibility of infection and hence fever. Also, in cancers, increased metabolism occurs, which can result in increased metabolic rate and hence sweating or fever can be seen. Night sweats particularly indicate cancer/ NHL.

Usually, some symptoms will be found. Depends on the location, the involvement of other areas and the stage symptoms can vary. This way, all cancers start small and are not detectable, even by best methods.

Internal lymph nodes require radiological investigation like CT, ultrasound etc for evaluation. Based on symptoms, if any, it can be evaluated. If doubtful, get a lymph node biopsy of the Virchow's node to confirm.

You can find spleen and liver enlargement by radiological investigations or deep palpation. Stomach requires a definite ultrasound. A cough is not a classical symptom of NHL and usually, in lymphomas, bloods levels are not affected.

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