Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Cheat Sheet

In the United States, more than 30,000 women are diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma annually.  Risk factors and warning signs may include:

Risk Factors:

  • I am of older age (Most cases occuring in people 60 years of age and older)
  • I have a weakened immune system
  • I have certain infections such as:
    - Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
    - Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
    - Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori are bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers. They also increase a person's risk of lymphoma in the stomach lining.)
    - Human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus type 1 (HTLV-1)
    - Hepatitis C virus (Some studies have found an increased risk of lymphoma in people with hepatitis C virus).
  • I have been exposed to radiation
  • I have been exposed to chemicals such as benzene and certain herbicides and insecticides

Warning Signs of Lymphoma:

  • Swelling of lymph nodes, which may or may not be painless
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sweating (often at night)
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Itching

These symptoms can often be similar to other diseases and conditions. However, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away. You should discuss which of the following diagnostic tools may be appropriate for you: Blood & Urine tests, MRI, CT Scan, PET Scan, Biopsy. Remember, early detection equals survival!

Contact The National Women’s Health Information Center for information on health insurance coverage or free clinics. Visit or call 1-800-994-9662. 

This information was provided by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.

This information was reviewed by the Cancer Schmancer Medical Advisory Board.

Last updated: August 2010


I was diagnosed with NHL in August of 2008 at the age of 23. My main symptom was severe itching. I immediately sought treatment from my primary care doctor who then sent me to the dermatologist. With normal blood work, the dermatologist diagnosed me with Eczema. No treatments worked. I progressively got worse over a five month period, intensified itching and development of breathing problems. I finally landed in the ER, admitted into the hospital and diagnosed with Stage IV primary mediastinal large b-cell lymphoma with liver and lung involvement. Over those five months I had a gut feeling that the doctors were missing something. Never second guess your intuition. Speak up and demand test. I had arrogant doctors (my dermatologist in particular). When I asked my dermatologist what he saw on my skin to lead him to diagnose me with eczema he said "go through eight years of medical school and I can tell you. I can tell you how to diagnose skin cancer, that's easy. Eczema is hard." I was so desperate for answers, I just went with it. I went back to him after my diagnosis and confronted him about the whole situation. Better late then never.

Hi Fran and team,

Thank you, thank you - sooooo much for listing this cheat sheet. Many of us are diagnoised too late with Lymphoma or Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It took me 11 months of searching to finally find an answer through my local hospital ER department.

The doctor responsible for my delayed diagnosis was eventually disciplined. I pray that more and more people are diagnoised sooner, as we talk more about the symptoms of this disease. These cheat sheet tools are invaluable.

Blessing to you all at Cancer Schmancer - You are all doing such an awesome job.
Jodie Guerrero.

My Mom was diagnosed with NHL 2 1/2 years ago. She didn't know she had it until she was in stage 4! She was exposed to chemicals while living in New Jersey. Most of the symptoms, you wouldn't think that it would be something this big! I can't wait until there's a cure for all cancers.

Thank you for this website! My daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma - but misdiagnosed for many years until she was diagnosed at advanced Stage 3. The awareness and self advocacy you speak of on your website is so inspiring. Perhaps you could add a link for Hodgkins Lymphoma as well as NHL.