The signs and symptoms of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) can differ from person to person, but they often result from the effects the lymphoma have on the lymphatic system. ALCL is characterized by the abnormal proliferation of large lymphocytes called anaplastic cells. These cells can infiltrate various parts of the body, leading to a range of symptoms and clinical manifestations. Often these symptoms can mimic other illnesses, so it's important to stay aware of how you are feeling and seek medical attention promptly if you are concerned about anything.
The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma Include:
- Swollen lymph nodes: This is often the first sign of ALCL. Enlarged lymph nodes result from the accumulation of ALCL cells within the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin are most commonly affected. The affected areas can be painless or tender.
- Skin lesions: In primary cutaneous ALCL, there will be skin involvement, leading to the development of skin lesions or lumps. These skin lesions may appear as reddish or purplish nodules, ulcers, or raised plaques. Skin symptoms can result from the infiltration of ALCL cells into the skin.
- Fever: A persistent, unexplained fever can be a sign of ALCL. The fever in ALCL is typically categorized as one of the "B symptoms." B symptoms are systemic symptoms that can accompany lymphomas and are associated with a more aggressive disease course. Fever is often described as unexplained or persistent, meaning that it occurs without an apparent infection or other underlying cause.
- Night sweats: Another B symptom, heavy sweating during the night, often to the point of soaking the bed sheets, can be a symptom of ALCL. Night sweats may be attributed to the inflammatory response caused by ALCL cells.
- Weight loss: Unexplained weight loss, particularly if it's 10% or more of body weight in six months or less, can be a sign of ALCL. Weight loss can be due to inflammation, metabolic changes and a change in the body's ability to absorb nutrients.
- Fatigue: This can be due to the body's response to the disease or to anemia, which can occur in people with ALCL. It can also be due to poor nutrient intake.
Seek Care For Your Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma Symptoms
Seeking medical attention promptly if you are experiencing symptoms related to your ALCL is of utmost importance. Certain types of ALCL are considered to be an aggressive cancer. Prompt initiation of treatment is essential to achieve the best possible outcomes. Delaying treatment can allow the lymphoma to progress, making it more challenging to achieve remission.
Medical attention can help manage and alleviate your symptoms and side effects and allow doctors to tailor an ALCL treatment plan that allows you to live as comfortably as possible. Doctors can adjust treatment as needed and provide supportive care to manage treatment-related side effects and complications. Coping with a cancer diagnosis is emotionally and psychologically challenging. You don't have to deal with side effects alone. In addition to discussing with your medical team, if you are experiencing ALCL symptoms and want to know what has worked for other blood cancer patients, visit HealthTree's Side Effect Solutions tool. Here you can search for the symptoms you are experiencing and read about what's worked (and what hasn't worked) for patients just like you.