The most common symptom of lymphoma is one or more enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin, which are usually painless. Enlarged lymph nodes in children with lymphoma may resemble the swollen glands of children who have a throat infection involving the lymph nodes.
Other frequent symptoms of lymphoma can include:
- Unexplained fever
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Coughing or difficulty breathing
- Abdominal swelling (lymphomas in the chest or abdomen can grow to a very large size before symptoms appear)
If your child has a lymph node that becomes enlarged without explanation or remains enlarged for a prolonged period of time, you should consult a pediatrician. The doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat a possible infection before performing a more extensive evaluation.
If the lymph node remains enlarged or continues to grow after antibiotic treatment, the doctor may need to remove lymph node cells or tissue to examine it for signs of a more serious condition, such as lymphoma. This can be accomplished by removing cells through a fine-needle aspiration procedure under local anesthesia, which may lead to a lymphoma diagnosis. If a diagnosis is not obtained using this method, a surgeon can perform a more extensive biopsy procedure to remove lymph node tissue while your child is placed briefly under general anesthesia.