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What are B-symptoms?

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Updated April 11, 2014

Question: What are B-symptoms?
Answer:

B-symptoms are a group of symptoms that may be present in individuals with lymphoma. There may be a variety of symptoms in lymphoma patients. The most common is the enlargement of lymph nodes. Apart from this, a set of 3 symptoms are considered very important in identifying how the cancer is likely to behave. These are:

  • Fever (i.e., temperature >38°C [>100.4°F]) for 3 consecutive days
  • Weight loss exceeding 10% of body weight in 6 months
  • Drenching night sweats

These are called the B-symptoms. The presence of one or more of these symptoms increases the likelihood that the disease may be present in many parts of the body even though it may not be identifiable using usual methods of testing.

When the doctor writes the stage of these individuals, he or she adds the letter B behind the stage (which may be between I to IV). So if someone is stage II with B-symptoms, the stage is noted as II-B. The stages of those who don't have any of the B symptoms are noted as A.

Patients with B-symptoms have a little less chance of doing well after treatment than others. Even when a person has early stage lymphoma, the presence of B symptoms makes it more likely for them to receive treatment on the lines of advanced stage disease.

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