Treatment for Lymphoma of the Brain in New Jersey
Lymphoma is a kind of cancer that originates in white blood cells called lymphocytes and can spread into many parts of the body. A lymphoma in the brain is one location a tumor can grow with the central nervous system (CNS). Although a lymphoma of the brain is fairly uncommon, the board-certified neurosurgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics (CNSO) in New Jersey are experienced in diagnosing brain tumors and treating every type of brain tumor including a lymphoma anywhere within the CNS system.
Types of CNS Lymphoma
Because lymphocytes travel throughout the lymphatic system, a lymphoma can spread to different parts of the body. There are two types of CNS lymphoma:
- Primary CNS lymphoma begins in the nervous system.
- Secondary CNS lymphoma develops in other parts of the body and later spreads to the nervous system.
In addition to presenting as a brain tumor, a CNS lymphoma can also occur in other parts of the body:
- Primary spinal lymphoma originates in the spinal cord.
- Primary intraocular lymphoma originates in one of both of the eyes.
- Primary leptomeningeal lymphoma originates in the layers of tissue that surround the brain, known as the leptomeninges.
Symptoms of Lymphoma of the Brain
A patient’s symptoms may depend on where their tumor is located and how fast it is growing. Symptoms also vary from patient to patient, but can include:
- Behavioral changes or other cognitive changes
- Double vision
- Difficulty speaking
- Hearing loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensory changes, such as numbness, tingling, and pain
If CNS lymphoma has spread to the spine, patients may also experience weakness in the arms and legs.
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of lymphoma of the brain is unclear. However, this type of tumor is thought to be more common in men than in women and tends to occur among people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. People who are immunocompromised may be at higher risk of developing this type of lymphoma. This includes patients who have had an organ transplant or have immune system disorders.
If a patient has an advanced lymphoma in other parts of the body or has lymphoma in more than one body part outside of the lymph nodes, they are at higher risk of developing secondary lymphoma of the brain.
The physicians at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics may use several kinds of diagnostic tests to determine if a patient has lymphoma of the brain. These can include:
- A physical and neurological exam to assess hearing, sense of smell, and balance
- An MRI scan to check for the location and size of possible brain tumors, as well as examine the spinal cord
- A CT scan to check if lymphoma is present in other parts of the body
Typically, once these tests are complete, if a tumor is discovered, a neurosurgeon will perform a biopsy of the tumor to confirm the diagnosis of either a primary CNS lymphoma or other type of brain tumor. Multiple factors determine whether the tumor will be removed in its entirety at the time of the biopsy.
Treatment for a lymphoma of the brain can depend on several different factors. These include how much their cancer has progressed, the patient’s age, and overall health. The neurosurgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics develop a unique treatment plan for each patient. A patient’s treatment plan may include a combination surgery with or without any of the following therapies:
- Drug treatment: Administration of corticosteroid drugs can help shrink a patient’s tumor and provide relief from symptoms, many of which are caused by intracranial pressure.
- Chemotherapy: Medication is administered intravenously to attack cancerous cells. This treatment can help prevent tumors from growing larger or stop cancer from spreading. Patients may receive chemotherapy over a period of days, weeks, or months. If a patient requires multiple rounds, they’ll have breaks in between to help their body rest and recover.
- Whole-brain radiation: Radiation uses high-energy rays to shrink or kill cancer cells. Whole-brain radiation applies radiation to the entire brain. Patients may require multiple treatments over several weeks or months.
- Proton Therapy: Uses protons to target very difficult to reach tumors. This is especially beneficial for tumors that have very sensitive structures nearby. Treatment session time is shorter.
Chemotherapy and radiation may be used in tandem. However, because whole-brain radiation can affect brain function, it is not always used, especially in patients over age 60. To prevent cancer from returning, patients may require additional rounds of chemotherapy or radiation therapy after their initial treatment. Some patients may benefit from a stem cell transplant.
Lymphomas also tend to occur deep within the brain and require a very competent neurosurgeon to determine the best treatment plan.
Schedule a Consultation with Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics
A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but patients need to know that treatment options are available. The award-winning medical team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics works with each patient to determine the best course of treatment possible. As the most comprehensive brain, spine, CNS, and musculoskeletal center in the state of New Jersey, CNSO is dedicated to ensuring patients get the best care possible in a comforting and welcoming environment. Contact CNSO today to get more information or to schedule an appointment.