International Youth Day - 12 August 2019

As the most common cancer in people aged 15 to 24, we're looking at signs and symptoms and busting some myths about lymphoma.

International Youth Day 2019

More than 500 young people develop lymphoma every year in the UK, making it the most common cancer among people aged 15 to 24.  

Many of the symptoms of lymphoma are also seen in other, less serious conditions. Because very few young people get cancer, typically a GP will initially consider conditions like glandular fever when a young person comes to see them with symptoms like lumps or tiredness. People who have the same type of lymphoma can have different symptoms.

The most common symptoms of lymphoma

Swollen lymph nodes

The most common sign of lymphoma is a lump or lumps, usually in the neck, armpit or groin. They are usually painless. These lumps are swollen lymph nodes. Lots of things that aren’t lymphoma can cause lumps – and not all lymphomas cause obvious lumps.


Fatigue means being exhausted for no obvious reason or feeling washed out after doing very little. It is not the same as normal tiredness; fatigue is overwhelming and doesn’t usually feel better after sleep or rest. Fatigue can be caused by many different things. Lymphoma is just one of them.

Unexplained weight loss

Unexplained weight loss means losing a lot of weight quite quickly when you’re not trying to. It can be a symptom of lymphoma – it can be caused by other things too.


Lymphoma can cause night sweats that make your nightclothes and bed sheets soaking wet. The night sweats are often described as ‘drenching’. They can happen with any type of lymphoma and can also happen during the day. Night sweats can also have causes other than lymphoma.


Itching without a rash can be a symptom of lymphoma, but it can have many other causes. It can be very troublesome, particularly in hot weather.

Myth busters

Can I catch lymphoma from someone?

No, you can’t catch lymphoma from someone or give it to anyone either.

Did I get lymphoma from my parents?

No. Lymphoma is not inherited from your parents.

Do I have lymphoma because of something I’ve eaten or drunk?

There is no evidence linking what you eat or drink with developing lymphoma.

Did I do something that gave me lymphoma?

Nothing you have done or that other people have done has caused your lymphoma. There is also no evidence that stress or exercise (or lack of it) causes lymphoma.

Some people with conditions that affect their immune system, like HIV, have a higher risk of developing lymphoma. For most people, no one can say why you have developed lymphoma.


Find out more about lymphoma in young people on our website or check out our videos.

12 August 2019