Can I develop Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma if I do not have HIV/AIDS?

Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma, often called Primary CNS or CNS, is a type of cancer in which the lymph cells of the brain, spinal cord, or eye are affected. It can develop in anyone. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and lymphocytes travel throughout the central nervous system. When some of these cells become altered, they can become malignant and the lymphoma can travel throughout the body, including lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, tonsils, and bone marrow.

Who’s at risk for CNS Lymphoma?

While this is a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, it occurs more often in men than women and usually in people over the age of 55. However, one of the biggest risk factors for developing CNS lymphoma is a compromised immune system. In patients with AIDS-related cases, the median age for CNS diagnosis falls to 35, so the diseases are often linked. Those with chronic immunosuppression (meaning their immune system’s function is purposefully reduced as a result of organ transplantation) may also be at a higher risk for Primary CNS.

Common CNS Lymphoma symptoms

One challenge with the diagnosis of CNS lymphoma is that common symptoms can be attributed to other ailments and can vary based on the location of the primary cancer’s development. Because of this, it is important to be aware of regular patterns or changes in your health and see a physician regularly to monitor blood levels and other potential signs of cancer, especially if you have a compromised immune system. Patients can experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Changes in mental alertness or confusion
  • Facial weakness
  • Hearing loss
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Blurry or double-vision
  • Back pain
  • Incontinence

Patients with AIDS-related cases may also experience night sweats, fever, weight loss for no known reason, and bloating below the ribs.

Based on the symptoms being experienced by a patient, doctors may use a variety of diagnostic tools in discovering Primary CNS. If vision is a primary concern, doctors may perform a slit-lamp eye exam that utilizes a special microscope to give them a view of the eye, both inside and out. Other traditional, non-invasive tools like PET scans and MRIs can be used to detect the presence of a tumor. More specific to CNS lymphoma diagnosis is a lumbar puncture or spinal tap in which fluid from the spinal column is extracted and examined under a microscope. Technology can also aid with diagnosis and accuracy; a stereotactic biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a computer and 3-D scanning to find a primary tumor and guide the removal of tissue for biopsy.

As with most cancers, the treatment of Primary CNS varies based on the cancer’s stage, location of the primary tumor, and a patient’s overall health. Standard of Care treatment options include radiation, chemotherapy, steroid therapy, or combinations of the three. At Causenta, we work with each patient to ensure a personalized approach to treatment that will help us achieve our goal of getting back to health with no signs of cancer.

There are specific treatment recommendations for AIDS-related cases of CNS lymphoma that take into consideration other medications the patients may be on to combat HIV-related challenges. In many cases, these patients cannot withstand more typical chemotherapy protocols for more advanced stages of Primary CNS.

“When we are working with patients who have CNS lymphoma, it is especially important for us to have a comprehensive understanding of their general health,” says Dr. Tom Incledon, Founder & CEO of Causenta. “Without all of the information, a strategy may actually work against what is happening in a patient’s body or counteract another medication they are taking. This is especially true for patients who have had an organ transplant or who have HIV/AIDS.”

For more information about personalized and holistic Primary CNS treatment options at Causenta, schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation today.

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