Signs & symptoms of tonsil lymphoma

Written by j. walker
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Signs & symptoms of tonsil lymphoma
(George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Lymphoma is the term for a kind of cancer that originates the cells of the lymphatic system. This cancer can affect various parts of the lymphatic system, including the tonsils, which are a group of lymph nodules near the opening of the throat. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, tonsil lymphoma, also known as tonsillar lymphoma or pharyngeal cancer, affects approximately 2.8 of every 100,000 people in the U.S. each year. There are a number of symptoms to watch for, though their delayed onset can make diagnosis difficult.

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Enlarged Tonsils

Tonsil enlargement is a primary symptom of tonsil lymphoma, however, several other factors account for most cases of enlarged tonsils. According to the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, while most cases of tonsil lymphoma do involve the symptom of enlarged tonsils, most enlarged tonsils do not indicate tonsil lymphoma.

Furthermore, there is a low incidence of tonsil malignancy in children, making lymphoma even less likely in paediatric cases. One sign that can sometimes differentiate enlarged tonsils caused by lymphoma is asymmetrical swelling. This is known as "unilateral tonsillar enlargement" and may require a biopsy for a full diagnosis.

Neck Pain and Swelling

Pain is often reported in cases of tonsil lymphoma, especially in the affected area and around the neck and throat, though not exclusively. Swelling in the neck can be caused by enlarged lymph nodes. This may be accompanied by painful chewing or swallowing, difficulty speaking and sore throat.

Ear Pain

The neck pain experienced by sufferers of tonsil lymphoma can radiate upward to the ears, because there is a nerve connection between the two. These strained nerve connections can affect facial movements and hearing and cause ringing in the ears and hearing loss.

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