Know the Signs of Lymphoma
- It took eight months for doctors to properly diagnosis young dad Ricky Evans, 32, with stage 3 lymphoma.
- His symptoms of fatigue, chest pain and lumps in his neck were repeatedly dismissed as things like acid reflux, depression and stress.
- There is no recommended screening test for lymphoma, so it’s important to pay attention to the signs your body is giving you and promptly address them with a doctor.
- Early symptoms of the disease can include swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin, persistent fatigue, fever, night sweats, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss and itchy skin.
The truck driver from southeast Wales in the U.K. first realized something was off about eight months ago when he began feeling exhausted all the time.Read More
The stronger acid reflux medication failed to make his symptoms go away, but doctors insisted it would “eventually help.”
“The fatigue was still bad, and I could still feel the pressure so I went back to the doctors again and they said could it be stress,” he explained. “I said my life was good, I have a good job, I didn’t have anything to be stressed about and I didn’t feel worried about anything.”
Doctors, again, tried to give him antidepressants. At this point, Evans felt “useless.” No one was really listening to his concerns or addressing them properly, he said. And his condition was only getting worse.
“I started to get lumps in my neck and I went back to the doctors again, but they said it could be swollen glands from an infection,” he said.
Staging Your Lymphoma: The Workup
Evans had six lumps on his neck about a month later, and doctors eventually performed a biopsy “to be on the safe side,” he said. After taking a “funny turn” at home while awaiting results, Evans was rushed to the hospital. Consequently, his results came back quicker than they would have.
“I was in hospital for three days, the consultant told me he thought it could by lymphoma,” Evans said. “They rushed through my biopsy so they could confirm the diagnosis. By this point, I had it in my mind I had cancer.”
Stage 3 lymphoma was the official diagnosis with a follow-up CT scan showing more lumps in his abdomen, in front and behind his spleen. His treatment path is unclear at this time, but doctors have said he might need chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In sharing his story, he hopes others will speak up about their health when they know something is wrong.
“It felt good to get answers and that someone was listening to me after all that time,” he said. “Don’t get palmed off, listen to your body.
“You can feel stupid trying to tell a medical professional something isn’t right but only you know your own body.”
Know the Signs of Lymphoma
Being familiar with the signs of lymphoma or simply addressing any concerning changes to your health with a doctor are important in the fight against cancer. Especially since lymphoma does not have a recommended screening test.
RELATED: Finding Lymphoma Early: Do you Know the Symptoms and Risks?
“Screening is a test we do with the goal of detecting lymphoma in a very early state,” Dr. Elise Chong, a medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, told SurvivorNet. “For something to be a good screening test, we need to see that the screening helps people live longer, and helps people have better outcomes.
“And so because we don’t really meet those two criteria, we don’t have a good screening test across the board for lymphoma yet.”
Age, Race, and Exposures Might All Factor Into Lymphoma Risk
Lymphoma can develop with little to no symptoms, so it can be tough to diagnosis. Additionally, the symptoms that do show up may not necessarily point to cancer.
“The symptoms of lymphoma, especially if you have a low-grade lymphoma, often are no symptoms,” Dr. Chong explained. “People say, but I feel completely fine, and that’s very normal.
“And it’s only because either someone palpated a lymph node and felt some swelling either in their neck or in their groin or under their arm, or they had another scan for a different purpose.”
RELATED: Shocking Diagnosis: Armpit Pain Turns Out To Be Lymphoma For 21-Year-Old — ‘I Know I’m Not A Doctor But I Know My Own Body’
Sneaky Lymphoma Symptoms Often Lead to a Late Diagnosis
While people with lymphoma do not always have symptoms, some possible signs of the disease include:
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin
- Persistent fatigue
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
- Itchy skin
Always address anything unusual happening to your body with your doctor. Even if it seems like there’s nothing to worry about, it’s good to rule out the possibility of a more serious issue.
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