Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Recurrent non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is a malignant adult cancer that develops in the lymph system. The disease becomes metastatic when it spreads from where it first developed and invades other areas of the body. The human body has more than 500 lymph nodes that form the immune system. Clusters of lymph nodes can be found in the neck, armpits, groin, abdomen, pelvis and chest. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) may develop in any area of body where lymph nodes are found.

Recurrent lymphoma occurs when the cancer has come back after treatment. It may relapse in the area where it first developed or return in another part of the body. Recurrence may occur at any time, shortly after treatment has ended or years later. This is called relapsed non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

NHL may be found in different organs, so symptoms of recurrent non-Hodgkin lymphoma vary. NHL symptoms may be non-specific or mimic the symptoms common to other illnesses, such as the cold or flu. But unlike the cold and flu, non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms typically do not go away. If you have symptoms that grow in intensity or persist for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor.

Symptoms of recurrent cancer vary from person to person. Some common recurrent non-Hodgkin lymphoma signs and symptoms include:

  • Unexplained fever
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarms or groin
  • Night sweats (often soaking the sheets) and/or chills
  • Persistent fatigue, lethargy or feelings of tiredness
  • Loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or swelling or feeling full
  • Skin rash or itchy skin (pruritus)
  • Coughing, shortness of breath or chest pain

Follow-up appointments with your oncologist are important in detecting cancer relapse early. Most recurrences of aggressive NHL occur within two years of treatment. Cancer recurrence rates for NHL vary widely, depending on the lymphoma type and stage, the patient’s age and other variables.

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