A primary brain lymphoma is rare, arising from lymphatic cells found within the brain. They represent less than 1 percent of all central nervous system (CNS) tumors. A brain lymphoma, or cerebral lymphoma, can occur at any age, but is more common in people ages 45 – 70. Patients who have a weakened immune system are at greater risk.
Brain lymphoma spreads by infiltration of the cerebrospinal fluid and seeding within the central nervous system. In rare cases (fewer than 10 percent), the disease spreads to other organs, bones and soft tissues. Most central nervous system lymphomas are diffuse large B-cell lymphomas.
What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Brain Lymphoma?
Researchers are still investigating the causes of brain lymphoma. The cause is not known, but someone with an impaired immune system such as human immunodeficiency virus or who has received organ transplants may have a greater risk.
Symptoms of brain lymphoma:
Nausea and/or vomiting
Possible Movement Related Symptoms:
Listing to one side while walking
Possible Cognitive Symptoms:
Changes in personality
How Is Brain Lymphoma Diagnosed?
To accurately diagnose a brain lymphoma, a stereotactic brain biopsy will be administered. A CT (computed tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) will provide a picture of your brain.
An ophthalmologic exam, including a slit-lamp eye exam which involves bright light passing through a narrow slit to check your eye, may be used to see if there are any symptoms of intraocular lymphoma.
A lumbar puncture, also sometimes called a spinal tap, will provide a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for cytologic analysis or flow-cytometric studies.
Advanced Treatments for Brain Lymphoma at NSPC
Without treatment, patients with primary brain lymphoma may survive for less than 2 months. Patients who are treated with chemotherapy often survive 3 – 4 years or more, depending on whether the tumor stays in remission. About 40% of patients are alive at 5 years. Survival may improve with the increased use of autologous stem cell transplants.
Many factors including the health, age and condition of the immune system of the patient can affect treatment choices. Along with medical standard-of-care treatments, NSPC participates in a number of clinical trials, to offer you the most advanced treatment options available.
Corticosteroids may be given to reduce swelling and provide symptom relief.
Chemotherapy, that penetrates the blood brain barrier and reaches the fluid surrounding the brain, might be given intravenously or intrathecally (directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord.)
Whole brain radiation may be used if the lymphoma is resistant to chemotherapy.
Neurosurgery. Some larger well-defined lesions that are closer to the surface of the brain may be operable.
Autologous stem cell transplant uses the patient’s own stem cells for treatment.
Find out what revolutionary treatment options are available to you in the New York area. Contact one of our specialists at The Long Island Brain Tumor Center, NY.