What are the possible complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)?

Updated: Feb 25, 2021
  • Author: Sanjay Vinjamaram, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Potential disease-related complications include the following:

  • Cytopenias (ie, neutropenia, anemia, thrombocytopenia) secondary to bone marrow infiltration; alternatively, autoimmune hemolytic anemia is observed in some types of NHL (eg, small lymphocytic lymphoma /chronic lymphocytic leukemia [SLL/CLL])

  • Bleeding secondary to thrombocytopenia, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), or vascular invasion by the tumor

  • Infection secondary to leukopenia, especially neutropenia

  • Cardiac problems secondary to large pericardial effusion or arrhythmias secondary to cardiac metastases

  • Respiratory problems secondary to pleural effusion and/or parenchymal lesions

  • Superior vena cava (SVC) syndrome secondary to a large mediastinal tumor

  • Spinal cord compression secondary to vertebral metastases

  • Neurologic problems secondary to primary CNS lymphoma or lymphomatous meningitis

  • GI obstruction, perforation, and bleeding in a patient with GI lymphoma (may also be caused by chemotherapy)

  • Pain secondary to tumor invasion

  • Leukocytosis (lymphocytosis) in leukemic phase of disease

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