Cancer symptoms are notoriously difficult to spot in the initial stages. Even when they do eventually emerge, they can be surprisingly misleading. In lymphoma, the lymph nodes are usually affected first. Occasionally, however, patients report strange feelings in their hands and feet.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a part of the body that is closely tied to the immune system because It collects and destroys invading organisms, such as bacteria and viruses and abnormal cells.
In the initial stages, the condition is characterised by swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin.
As the condition advances, however, symptoms may spread to other parts of the body like the extremities due to peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is a result of damage to the nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord, which are known as the peripheral nerves.
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When these nerves become compromised they cause weakness, numbness and pain in the hand and feet, and may affect a number of other bodily functions.
it is believed that in lymphoma, peripheral neuropathy occurs when cancer produces paraproteins which stick to the nerves and damage them.
The health body Lymphoma Action adds that lymphoma cells can spread into nerves and push up against (compress) them or grow around the tiny blood vessels that supply the nerves.
Generally speaking, both Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s can affect the peripheral nervous system and cause peripheral neuropathies in five to eight percent of patients.
Neuropathy is more commonly seen in people with Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia, however, which is a rare type of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
MedlinePlus explains: “Some people with Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia develop a loss of sensation and weakness in the limbs.
“Doctors are unsure why this feature occurs, although they speculate that the IgM protein attaches to the protective covering of nerve cells (myelin) and breaks it down.”
While Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is generally not curable, it can be kept under control with treatment.
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“The symptom first started from his feet,” noted the doctors, adding that burning gradually spread to the hands.
Upon examination, doctors found a severe loss of vibration and position sensation compared to the chin and a slight loss of pain and thermal sensation compared to the face.
They also diagnosed multiple polyneuropathies in the feet, which describe the simultaneous malfunction of many peripheral nerves throughout the body.
Other types of cancer that may produce damaging substances from the nerves include myeloma and lung cancer.
Sometimes, nerve damage occurs because a tumour in one part of the body is growing next to a nerve and pressing on it.