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About CNS Lymphoma

Central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma is a condition in which malignant cells are present in the lymph tissue of the brain and/or spinal cord. Treatment for CNS lymphoma generally does not include surgery. Instead, nonsurgical treatments, namely corticosteroids, chemotherapy and/or whole-brain radiation therapy, are used to treat CNS lymphoma.

Lymphoma designates a group of cancers that arise from white blood cells called lymphocytes. Because lymphocytes travel in the blood and lymph tissue and pass in and out of the CNS, lymphoma too can develop in various places in the body, including the CNS. CNS lymphoma is an aggressive type of lymphoma.

CNS lymphoma comes in two forms, depending on the origin of the tumor, and can produce single or multiple growths.

  • Primary CNS lymphoma originates in the lymph tissue of the brain or spinal cord.
  • Secondary CNS lymphoma originates in lymph tissue outside of the CNS and then metastasizes to the CNS.

Primary and secondary CNS lymphoma are both very rare, with primary CNS lymphoma making up only about 2 to 3 percent of primary brain tumors.

CNS lymphoma can be found in the cerebrum, leptomeninges, eyes and, very rarely, the spinal cord.

Treatment for CNS lymphoma does not aim to cure the disease—unfortunately, no available treatments can cure the disease. Instead, the goals of treatment are to extend life and improve quality of life.

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