A lymphoma in the brain has a special status among brain tumors. This is because it is made up of cells that are not native to the brain. Compared to other brain tumors, brain lymphomas are relatively rare. Only three percent of brain tumors are lymphomas.
What is lymphoma in the brain?
According to Sportingology, degenerated cells of the immune system are referred to as lymphoma in the brain. More precisely, it is in the lymphocytes, which belong to the white blood cells. These form a lump.
Normally, lymphomas settle within the lymphatic organs. These include the lymph nodes, liver, spleen and the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines. However, the lymphoma can spread from these organs to the brain, becoming what is known as secondary brain lymphoma.
However, it is also possible for a lymphoma to develop in the brain itself. Such a lymphoma is called primary cerebral lymphoma. This lymphoma in the brain has its origin in degenerated lymphatic cells.
Unfortunately, the causes of lymphoma in the brain are not yet known. The trigger for the desiccation of white blood cells and the associated formation of a tumor in the human brain therefore remains a mystery.
However, it can be said that the risk of developing lymphoma in the brain is relatively low in people with an intact immune system. In people who have a weakened immune system, however, the risk increases enormously.
It was found that about one percent of people suffering from AIDS develop a lymphoma in the brain. Basically, the shorter the duration of the underlying disease, the lower the risk of developing a lymphoma in the brain.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Lymphoma in the brain can cause a variety of symptoms. These depend, among other things, on the location and size of the cerebral lymphoma. Nausea, vomiting and headaches are often the first signs of illness. These symptoms are particularly noticeable with increased intracranial pressure, which occurs in almost half of those affected.
Increased intracranial pressure occurs when cerebral lymphoma spreads to the meninges. This often results in accumulations of fluid (cerebral fluid, liquor) in the cerebrospinal fluid chambers. Sometimes signs of paralysis affecting only one side of the body are observed. This is referred to as a so-called hemiparesis. The eyes are often also affected when certain cell components penetrate the vitreous humor and the middle layer of the eye.
This then leads to visual field defects or reduced visual acuity, which are characterized by a partial weakening of the visual field and reduced visual acuity. Half of all patients with cerebral lymphoma develop neurobehavioral symptoms such as impaired memory, personality changes and confusional states.
Aphasia (speech disorders) can also occur. The language disorders become noticeable, among other things, through impairments in language formation and language comprehension. If the lymphoma is in the temporal lobe, ]]epilepsy|epileptic seizures]] can also occur. However, this is rarely the case. The prognosis of the disease ranges from complete recovery to death and depends on the type, size, location and timing of treatment.
Diagnosis & History
The modern cross-sectional imaging method plays an important role in the diagnosis of a lymphoma in the brain. It is possible to visualize the affected regions with the help of magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography. However, the cross-sectional imaging method does not offer a reliable diagnosis.
The reason for this is the diversity of a lymphoma in the brain. Additional investigations are required. In this context, the examination of the brain water must be mentioned. Final certainty with regard to the diagnosis, however, only gives the histological examination.
A lymphoma in the brain requires the fastest possible diagnosis and treatment, as the tumor usually grows very quickly. The form of therapy is very important for the course of the disease. It is therefore carefully chosen by doctors. Usually, lymphoma in the brain responds very well to radiation therapy.
However, this alone is not enough and the therapy is associated with a great risk. For this reason, a combined version of chemotherapy and radiotherapy is recommended. In such a case, there is a 5-year survival rate of up to 70 percent for a lymphoma in the brain.
Lymphoma in the brain is usually a very serious problem. If the tumor is not treated or removed, the patient dies in most cases. For this reason, treatment by a doctor is necessary in any case. Patients primarily suffer from headaches, which usually cannot be curbed with the help of painkillers.
It is also not uncommon for vomiting or nausea to occur. Those affected can also have visual disturbances and are therefore significantly restricted in their everyday life. Paralysis and sensory disturbances can also occur in various parts of the body due to the lymphoma in the brain and significantly reduce the patient’s quality of life.
It is not uncommon for there to be adeptness or memory gaps, making everyday life significantly more difficult for those affected. Personality disorders or psychological complaints can also occur as a result of the lymphoma in the brain. This condition can be treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
In this way, the tumor can possibly be completely removed. However, whether the course of the disease will be completely positive cannot generally be predicted universally. The patient’s life expectancy may be reduced and limited by the lymphoma in the brain.
When should you go to the doctor?
Medical advice is required if there are signs of lymphoma in the brain. If neurological deficits, cramps, recurring migraines, gastrointestinal complaints and other symptoms appear, it is best to consult the family doctor immediately. In the case of severe or rapidly increasing symptoms that impair well-being, a neurologist should be consulted. If the symptoms occur in connection with a viral infection, the use of certain chemicals or X-rays or gamma radiation, the responsible doctor must also be informed.
Affected persons should also seek medical advice if severe accompanying symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting or memory disorders occur. In the case of recurring epileptic seizures, it is best to call an ambulance. The actual diagnosis is made by a neurologist, who usually also initiates treatment.
Other contact points are internists and physiotherapists. Since the disease can also have an impact on the psyche, accompanying psychotherapy makes sense. After completion of the treatment, the patient must be examined regularly in order to rule out any recurrences or to be able to treat them immediately.
Treatment & Therapy
In the case of lymphoma in the brain, the treatment depends on the tumor. If there is an isolated lymphoma, a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy is usually used. However, an early diagnosis is the basis for the success of the treatment.
To prevent the lymphoma from spreading via the cerebrospinal fluid, an additional drug is often given. It is administered via a puncture of the spinal canal. Radiation for a lymphoma in the brain is carried out in single doses and takes place over a period of up to five weeks. Treatment in the form of surgery is not an option for lymphoma in the brain. The reason is the fact that cerebral lymphomas cannot be completely removed in the case of a lymphoma in the brain.
Outlook & Forecast
If left untreated, the lymphoma in the brain will result in the premature death of the affected person. There is a steady increase in pain or dysfunction as the lymphoma is able to spread unhindered further inside the head. Ultimately, the patient’s organism is so weakened that death occurs. Prognosis improves when diagnosis is made early and medical treatment can be initiated. The growth of the lymphoma must be contained as quickly as possible so that there is a chance of recovery.
Classic cancer therapy is initiated to increase the patient’s chances of survival. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used to prevent the diseased tissue from dividing. The prospect of improvement is given to people who generally have a healthy immune system. It has been shown that these people are better placed to cope with the disease.
Despite the regression of the lymphoma, the symptoms can come back at any time in life. In these cases, the same treatment measures are taken as for the initial illness. Here, too, the weaker the immune system, the less favorable the prospects of alleviating the symptoms. People with lymphoma experience periods when they are symptom-free. However, there is no recovery.
There are no universal preventive measures for lymphoma in the brain. In principle, however, it is advisable to avoid chemicals and unnecessary radiation. In addition, the immune system should be strengthened. A low-fat and varied diet, as well as a lot of exercise and little alcohol are therefore the basis for reducing the risk of developing lymphoma in the brain.
As with all tumorous diseases, close follow-up care is required after treatment has been completed. The aim of this is to detect any new tumors or metastases at a very early stage. In the case of a brain tumor, follow-up checks are therefore carried out several times a year at intervals of a few months. If no abnormalities are found, the intervals between the next inspection increase.
Whether there are any new growths is usually checked via MRI or CT. Precisely because malignant brain tumors often have a high risk of recurrence despite initially successful treatment, it is important that those affected attend their follow-up appointments regularly. The prognosis for new tumors is more favorable the earlier they are discovered.
New brain tumors do not always immediately lead to symptoms that should warn the patient. Findings that require treatment are often discovered by chance during follow-up care. However, if unusual pain is noticed outside of the follow-up checks, this is always a reason to see the doctor treating you as soon as possible. He can decide whether the next follow-up appointment should be brought forward in order to be able to rule out the possibility of new tumors forming in a timely manner.
You can do that yourself
Self-help treatment is not possible for this disease. Patients with this disease are always dependent on radiotherapy or chemotherapy to combat the lymphoma in the brain. It is also important to ensure that medication is taken regularly in order to avoid spreading via the cerebrospinal fluid. Surgical treatment is not possible in this case.
As with other forms of cancer, those affected depend on constant support from friends and family. This support should not take place on a physical, but also on a psychological level. In the case of depression or other psychological upsets, talking to family or other people you trust always helps.
The affected person should be relieved in their everyday life, especially if they have to carry out chemotherapy. Unnecessary loads are to be avoided at all costs. Children should always be informed about the possible consequences and complications of a lymphoma in the brain. Furthermore, contact with other patients can have a positive effect on the course of the disease.