What is Spinal Lymphoma?
Cancer in the spinal cord is also called spinal lymphoma or spinal tumor. Lymphoma is a type of cancer of the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes are present in the lymphatic system. Lymphatic fluid has infection-fighting White Blood Cells (WBC) and the function of the lymph node is to act as filters and also capture and destroy all the bacteria and viruses in order to prevent the infection from spreading. Spinal lymphoma mainly starts in the spinal cord. It can also spread through Cerebro Spinal Fluid (CSF) and also through the blood. Due to spinal lymphoma, the spinal vertebrae, nerve roots, blood vessels, meninges as well as cells of the spinal cord are affected which may also lead to its permanent damage. Spinal lymphoma is a very rare condition and it mainly represents metastatic disease. It can happen very rarely as a primary malignancy.
Cause of Spinal Lymphoma
Spinal lymphoma is a kind of cancer in the cells of the spinal cord that are mainly caused due to uncontrolled growth of the cell. Generally, what happens is that a cell grows up to some extent and after an average lifespan the cell dies but in spinal lymphoma, the cell grows and instead of dying it spreads in the cells of the spinal cord.
Though the exact cause of spinal lymphoma is not known yet, it is certain that genetic predisposition is one of the main reasons. However, if there is the presence of myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma in the body then there is a huge chance of developing spinal lymphoma. Again, if there are tumors in the spinal cord or if the person suffers from breast cancer or bone cancer then there is a huge chance that he may develop spinal lymphoma as well. Spinal lymphoma may also be cause due to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Symptoms of Spinal Lymphoma
In the early stage, spinal lymphoma does not cause any specific types of symptoms. However, the patient may suffer from the following problems:
- Severe back pain
- Cough, fatigue and fever
- Night sweat
- Itchy rash and skin itching
- Stomach pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Excessive weakness
- Problem in ambulation
- Muscles spasms
- Reduced sensory function
- Paresthesia which may include itching, burning, prickling or tingling on the lower limbs.
Treatment for Spinal Lymphoma
The treatment of Spinal Lymphoma actually depends on its stage. However, some of the main treatment for Spinal Lymphoma may include the following:
- Chemotherapy in which drugs are used to kill the cells
- Radiation therapy for Spinal Lymphoma in which high energy rays are used to destroy the cells
- Immunotherapy in which the immune system of the body is used for attacking the cancer cells
- Targeted therapy with the help of which the lymphoma cell will not be able to grow further or spread.
In case these treatments do not work, it is required to do stem cell transplant for treating Spinal Lymphoma. While going for stem cell transplant it is necessary to give a high dose of chemotherapy which will not only kill cancer cells but also destroy stem cells in the bone marrow. Once the chemotherapy is done, it is necessary to go for stem cell transplantation which will replace the destroyed stem cell with the new ones.
Life Expectancy of Spinal Lymphoma
It is found that patient having spinal lymphoma will have a median survival time which may range up to several months. However, if spinal lymphoma is properly treated at a proper time then the life of the patient can be prolonged up to five years. As far as survival rate for Spinal Lymphoma is considered it is found that in several cases, it can be as low as 8% and in preliminary case, the survival rate of Spinal Lymphoma can be as high as 84% which in fact depends on the location, severity of the disease and prognostic factors of the patient as well.
If you are experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms or if you have breast cancer, bone cancer or AIDS, you must not ignore the symptoms. You should go for proper diagnosis which may involve neurological tests, an imaging test, Electroencephalogram (EEG) as well as lumbar tap. Though these tests are very costly, it is highly required to perform the test so that spinal lymphoma can be detected early and proper treatment can be taken which will certainly help to increase the lifespan of the patient.
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