Follicular lymphoma tends to grow slowly and often doesn’t cause symptoms in its early stages. Swollen lymph nodes — typically in your armpits, neck, groin, and thighs — are usually the first symptom.
Lymphoma is a group of cancers that develop in your lymphatic system. This is made up of:
- lymph nodes
- lymph vessels
- organs such as your spleen and tonsils
Follicular lymphoma is a subtype of the most common type of lymphoma, called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It tends to grow slowly but often returns after treatment. The most common first symptom is a swollen lymph node.
This article examines the symptoms, treatment options, and outlook associated with follicular lymphoma.
Facts about follicular lymphoma
- About 15,000 people develop follicular lymphoma in the United States each year.
- The average age at diagnosis is about 60 years.
- Follicular lymphoma rarely occurs in children, but when it does, it occurs in males about
10 timesmore often than it does in females.
- Follicular lymphoma is the second most common type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, making up about
30% of cases.
- Follicular lymphoma is the most common slow-growing lymphoma.
- Researchers have linked exposure to certain pesticides and herbicides with follicular lymphoma.
Follicular lymphoma doesn’t tend to cause symptoms in the early stages, and it often grows slowly. Symptoms can vary among people depending on factors such as where the cancer began and the extent of the cancer.
Symptoms tend to follow a relapsing and remitting course, meaning that they flare up and go through periods of remission where they ease.
Swollen lymph nodes also have many other causes that aren’t cancer.
Symptoms of spleen or bone marrow involvement
Follicular lymphoma can affect your spleen or bone marrow. Bone marrow involvement occurs in
Low blood cell counts can cause symptoms such as:
- easy bruising or bleeding
- bleeding gums
- small purplish red spots on your skin called petechiae
- frequent infections
- severe infections
- shortness of breath
- fast breathing rate
Symptoms of follicular lymphoma B
Most cases of follicular lymphoma start in your lymph nodes. The most commonly involved lymph nodes are those in your:
You may also have swollen lymph nodes in your abdomen, but you can’t typically feel these lymph nodes.
A subtype of follicular lymphoma called primary gastrointestinal lymphoma starts in the gastrointestinal tract, usually in the first part of the small intestines. It tends to have a
Follicular lymphoma is rare in children, but when it develops, it primarily develops in the
Follicular lymphoma often returns after treatment but may respond to additional treatment.
The main treatment options for follicular lymphoma include:
Follicular lymphoma tends to grow slowly and often has a good outlook, although the course of the condition can vary significantly among people. On average, people tend to live longer than 20 years after their diagnosis.
Some people may never develop symptoms, while others may develop life threatening complications and need frequent treatment.
Doctors often use 5-year relative survival rates to report survival statistics. A 5-year relative survival rate is a measure of how many people with the cancer are alive 5 years later compared with people without the cancer.
|5-year relative survival rate
Healthcare professionals often use the Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index to predict how well follicular lymphoma will respond to treatment. This index considers the following factors:
|60 years or under
|over 60 years
|1 or 2
|3 or 4
|over 120 grams per liter (g/L)
|under 120 g/L
|Lactate dehydrogenase levels
|Number of affected lymph nodes
|4 or fewer
|more than 4
|Number of risk factors
|2-year survival rate
|0 or 1
|3 or more
Follicular lymphoma is a slow-growing cancer that develops in your lymph system. The first symptom is often swelling in a lymph node.
The outlook for follicular lymphoma varies among people, but it tends to be better than for most other types of lymphoma.
Healthcare professionals don’t usually consider follicular lymphoma curable since it often comes back after treatment. However, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other treatments can reduce your symptoms and potentially prolong your life by decades.