Abdominal lymphoma occurs when cancerous tumors develop in the lymphatic tissues of the abdomen. Symptoms depend on the type of lymphoma but may include vomiting, nausea, and changes in bowel habits.
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphocytes, which are a part of the immune system. Lymphatic tissues help form the lymphatic system and are present throughout the entire body, including in the abdomen.
When lymphoma arises from sites other than the lymph nodes, doctors call this extranodal lymphoma. The stomach and small intestine are the most common sites of extranodal lymphoma, making up 80–90% of extranodal lymphoma in Western countries.
This article discusses the symptoms of abdominal lymphoma, how to treat it, and factors that can cause the condition.
The rapid growth of malignant lymphocytes can cause enlargements in surrounding areas. Therefore, symptoms of lymphoma may vary depending on where this occurs and the stage of the condition.
Symptoms of abdominal lymphoma are often generic and can present in similar ways to other gastric conditions. Some people may not experience any symptoms at the point of diagnosis.
Gastric lymphoma symptoms
Local symptoms of primary gastric lymphoma can include:
- pain below the ribs in the upper abdomen
- stomach ulcers
- feeling full quickly after eating
- unexplained weight loss
Intestinal lymphoma symptoms
Symptoms of intestinal lymphoma include:
Liver lymphoma symptoms
A person with lymphoma of the liver, or hepatic lymphoma, will typically have general symptoms of feeling unwell.
- upper abdominal discomfort or pain
Some rarer symptoms that people experience include acute liver failure and chronic hepatitis. These symptoms occur
Cancers are the result of changes to a person’s DNA. These changes depend on the type of lymphoma a person develops.
There are two types of lymphoma:
- Hodgkin lymphoma (HL): This is the most common type, accounting for
11%of all lymphoma cases in the United States.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL): This type is much rarer and typically moves between the lymph nodes.
Some possible risk factors for abdominal lymphoma include:
- Infections: Various types of viral and bacterial infections can increase the risk of both types of lymphoma. For example,
researchersnote how Helicobacter pylori — a bacteria that affects the stomach lining — is involved in the development of certain gastric lymphomas.
- Age: HL is most common in people under 20 years of age or over 55.
- Weakened immune system: The risk of developing HL is higher in people who are immunocompromised. For example, a person that takes medications to suppress their immune system after an organ transplant.
- Autoimmune disease:
Some researchnotes increased risks of NHL in people with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
If a person experiences lumps in their neck or elsewhere, it can indicate lymphoma. Other symptoms include unexplained fever, night sweats, and unexplained weight loss.
A doctor will need to know a person’s medical history, any medications they are taking, and any symptoms they are experiencing.
Various tests help doctors determine if a person has a type of lymphoma.
A doctor may also test for the presence of an infection. This is because certain infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, have links to types of abdominal lymphoma.
Endoscopy and biopsy
Specialists will analyze the sample in a laboratory to determine if cancerous cells are present and, if so, the type of cancer.
While a biopsy will determine the type of cancer a person may have, imaging scans can help identify if there are any large sites of cancer cells. These can include:
Certain types of lymphoma may not require treatment immediately. These are indolent, or slow-growing lymphomas, such as certain types of NHL. Doctors will continue to monitor people with indolent lymphoma.
If doctors advise treatment, it may include:
- Antibiotics: For people with gastrointestinal lymphoma, antibiotics may help to eradicate any bacterial infections causing the lymphoma. According to a 2019 review, this can be the only treatment a person needs at the early stages of diagnosis.
- Radiation: If the cancer is advanced, doctors may use targeted beams of radiation to shrink lymphoma in the abdomen.
- Chemotherapy: Doctors may use radiation therapy with chemotherapy if the person has an aggressive type of cancer.
Doctors only usually recommend surgery for individuals who do not respond well to radiation or chemotherapy.
The outlook for a person with abdominal lymphoma will depend on the type of lymphoma, the location, and the stage:
|Gastric lymphoma||Typically, |
If a person has no risk factors, there is a 70% chance that they will not have any related issues within 5 years of treatment.
This can decrease to 29% in people with two risk factors, but it is possible to reduce this by making the necessary changes to their lifestyle.
|Hepatic lymphoma||Evidence suggests that |
Typically, lymphoma of the liver responds to treatment well, particularly chemotherapy. Some people may develop acute liver failure.
However, approximately 80% of people who receive treatment for hepatic lymphoma make a full recovery.
|Intestinal lymphoma||A 2021 study found that 48.5% of its participants with intestinal lymphoma, specifically those with B-cell lymphoma, survived 5 years with chemotherapy, or chemotherapy and surgical treatment.|
Researchers noted that a low hemoglobin level could be a factor in indicating lower survival rates for intestinal lymphoma.
A relative survival rate helps give an idea of how long a person with a particular condition will live after receiving a diagnosis compared with those without the condition.
For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate is 70%, it means that a person with the condition is 70% as likely to live for 5 years as someone without the condition.
It is important to remember that these figures are estimates. A person can consult a healthcare professional about how their condition is going to affect them.
Abdominal lymphoma is a type of extranodal lymphoma that can develop in the lymphatic tissue of the organs in the abdomen. The most common place a person develops this is in their stomach, which is also the type with the most successful treatment regimens.
Genetics, lifestyle factors, and infection can all increase the risk of a person developing abdominal lymphoma. The type, location, and stage of cancer a person has may influence how they respond to their treatment.