The exact cause of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas is unknown. In general, males are at a higher risk than females, and the risk increases with age. Though it can strike people as young as 40, people between the ages of 60 and 69 are at the highest risk. In addition, the number of non-Hodgkin's cases has increased significantly in recent years, many of them due to the AIDS epidemic. (For reasons that are still poorly understood, AIDS patients have a higher likelihood of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.)
The symptoms of lymphomas are often vague and nonspecific. Patients may experience loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and indigestion. The patient may complain of a feeling of fullness, which is a result of enlarged lymph nodes in the abdomen. Pressure or pain in the lower back is another symptom. In the advanced stages, the patient may have bone pain, headaches, constant coughing, and abnormal pressure and congestion in the face, neck, and upper chest. Some may have fevers and night sweats. In most cases, patients go to the doctor because of the presence of swollen glands in the neck, armpits, or groin area. Since all the symptoms are common to many other illnesses, it is essential to seek medical attention if any of the conditions persist for two weeks or more. Only a qualified physician can correctly diagnose if the symptoms are due to lymphoma or some other ailment.
Paula Ford-Martin, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,