Splenic lymphoma is a rare type of cancer of spleen and bone marrow. It is also labeled as splenic marginal zone lymphoma. Lymphoma is of two varieties, non Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphoma. Splenic lymphoma is B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Usually the condition affects adults over the age of 60 years. The exact cause of this condition is not known, but certain factors may be involved. Genetics, hepatitis C, poor immunity, Waldenstorm’s macroglobulinemia, may be associated with splenic lymphoma.
In majority of cases splenic lymphoma is asymptomatic and it is found incidentally on CT scan of abdomen or ultrasound examination.Symptoms if present include enlarged spleen, weight loss, fatigue, and frequent infections. It is generally a slow growing tumor and the doctor may just observe the patient if splenic lymphoma is asymptomatic.
In case of significant symptoms, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation are treatment modes that may be required. Generally the prognosis of splenic lymphoma is good after proper treatment.
What Are The Causes Of Splenic Lymphoma?
In humans the spleen is located on the left side of abdomen. It is the main organ of immune system. Lymphoma is the cancer of lymphocytes. It occurs when the lymphocytes multiply in abundance.Lymphocytes are type of white blood cells that fight any type of infection in the body. They are carried by the lymph, a type of fluid in lymphatic system. Lymphocytes are of two main types, T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. Splenic lymphoma is B-cell lymphoma. B-cell lymphocytes are found in the margin of spleen and other lymphoid tissue.
Splenic lymphoma is an uncommon cancer of all non Hodgkin variety of lymphoma. This condition is generally seen in people over the age of 60 years. It can affect both the genders equally. There is no specific reason that is identified for development of splenic lymphoma. However, there are several conditions known to be associated with it. These conditions include; Hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr virus infection, malaria, Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren syndrome etc.
There may be several other triggering causes such as smoking, exposure to environmental toxins, pesticides, exposure to radiation etc. Researchers also believe there may be an underlying genetic cause.
Signs And Symptoms Of Splenic Lymphoma
Many patients suffering from splenic lymphoma are asymptomatic. It means they do not have any symptoms. However, in some cases the condition is found accidentally when the doctor examines the patient’s abdomen for some other reason. He may notice an enlarged spleen during examination. This in medical terminology is called splenomegaly.
Patient may complain of abdominal pain and discomfort if the spleen is extremely enlarged in size. Symptoms if present are as follows:
- Anemia leading to severe fatigue, and shortness of breath.
- Low platelet count which can lead to easy brazing and bleeding from orifices.
- Frequent infections
- Low blood pressure
- Back pain
- Weight loss
- Swelling of legs
Treatment Options For Splenic Lymphoma
Once the disease is diagnosed, treatment will depend on whether the symptoms are causing any problem. It will also depend on the general health of the patient. Majority cases of splenic lymphoma do not have any symptoms. If there are no symptoms troubling the patient, the health care practitioner will just monitor the patient and try wait and watch approach. If the symptoms develop, he will start the treatment. If the patient has underlying problem such as hepatitis C, treatment of this particular condition often clears off the lymphoma. In such situation no further therapy is needed.
Treatment may be required if the symptoms are troubling the patient or if there is persistent low blood count. Treatment in such case is surgical removal of spleen. The surgery performed is called splenectomy. It is performed in a patient who is fit for the operation. In case if the patient is not fit the alternative treatment consists of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or antibody therapy.
In some cases relapse is possible. If so another course of chemotherapy is given to the patient. Usually the prognosis of the patient is good after proper treatment if the condition is diagnosed in its early stage and the treatment is started promptly.