Gastrointestinal Lymphoma

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Lymphoma, also known as lymphatic cancer is cancer that begins in lymphocytes and gastrointestinal lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates within the stomach. It can either diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the stomach or mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue gastric lymphoma. Lymphoma, also known as lymphatic cancer is cancer that begins in lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are […] Read More

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Gastrointestinal Lymphoma

Lymphoma, also known as lymphatic cancer, is cancer that begins in the lymphatic system and gastrointestinal lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates within the stomach. It can either diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the stomach or mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue gastric lymphoma.

Lymphoma (also known as lymphatic cancer) is a form of cancer that starts in lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the immune system’s infection-fighting cells. Lymphocytes are found in the lymph nodes, thymus, bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and other parts of the body.

Lymphoma can cause lymphocytes to grow and change out of control. Lymphoma spreads most commonly to the liver, lungs, or bone marrow.

What is Gastrointestinal Lymphoma?

Gastrointestinal lymphoma, also known as “primary gastric lymphoma,” is a general term for cancer originating within the stomach.

Lymphomas that originate from lymphoma elsewhere are often metastasized to the stomach. It is also the most common cause of lymphomas in your gastrointestinal tract.

Gastrointestinal Lymphoma
Picture Courtesy: bmjopengastro

Types Of Gastrointestinal Lymphoma

Approximately 90 percent of patients with primary gastric lymphoma are either mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) gastric lymphoma or diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the stomach. A common cause of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue gastric lymphoma is Helicobacter Pylori.

What are the risk factors associated with gastric lymphoma?

Risk factors for gastric lymphoma include the following:

  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Long-term immunosuppressant drug therapy
  • Immunodeficiency such as HIV infection

How is gastrointestinal lymphoma diagnosed?

Primary gastric lymphoma is diagnosed based upon a thorough clinical evaluation, detection of certain symptoms and physical findings, a detailed patient history, and various specialized tests. Diagnosis of gastrointestinal lymphomas is difficult because many diseases can be found in the gastrointestinal tract.

Picture Courtesy: tropicalgastro

Usually, the diagnosis is made during endoscopy by a biopsy. Endoscopic findings include solitary ulcers, mass lesions, nodules, and thickened gastric folds. As there may be infiltration of the submucosa, larger biopsy forceps, endoscopic ultrasound-guided biopsy, endoscopic submucosal resection, or laparotomy may be required to obtain tissue.

Imaging investigations, including CT scans or endoscopic ultrasounds, are useful to stage disease.
Other imaging tests include- a PET scan to find out whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body or not.

How is gastrointestinal lymphoma treated?

Picture Courtesy: semanticscholar

Specific therapeutic procedures and interventions may vary, depending upon numerous factors, such as disease stage, tumor size; specific lymphoma subtype; the presence or absence of certain symptoms; an individual’s age and general health, and/or other elements.

  • As first-line treatment for lymphomas associated with mucosa-associated Helicobacter Pylori, antibiotics are recommended. Second-line therapy for mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphomas is usually chemotherapy with a single agent, and complete response rates of greater than 70% have been reported.
  • The first treatment for large B-cell lymphomas in the stomach is chemotherapy. 
  • In refractory cases or when there are complications such as gastric outlet obstruction, subtotal gastrectomy is performed with postoperative chemotherapy.
  • Radiation therapy- radiation therapy is used in cases where MALT gastric lymphoma does not respond to chemotherapy or any other therapy.
  • Chemotherapy- during this procedure, the doctor uses several different drugs (intravenous) alone or in combination to kill cancer cells.


The symptoms of gastrointestinal lymphoma are usually vague. There may not be any obvious physical signs upon diagnosis in many cases.

Specific symptoms can vary from one person to another. Abdominal pain or cramping is probably the most common and maybe one of the first symptoms noted. 

Other Symptoms of gastrointestinal lymphoma include: 

  • fatigue, 
  • epigastric pain, 
  • vomiting, 
  • nausea, 
  • indigestion of food
  • early satiety (feeling of fullness in the stomach) and 
  • weight loss. 

Bleeding from your stomach can occur in certain individuals. This could also be the first sign of primary gastric lymphoma. Advanced cases may also have a mass that can be felt by applying pressure to the stomach.


The exact cause of gastrointestinal lymphoma is unknown. 

  • A common cause of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue gastric lymphoma is Helicobacter Pylori infection. Helicobacter Pylori is a bacterium found in the stomach and upper part of the intestines and is well-known for causing ulcers.
  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the stomach may arise spontaneously in individuals without a previous history of cancer, or it may occur from the transformation of an indolent mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue gastric lymphoma into the more aggressive diffuse large B-cell lymphoma form. 

Researchers have suggested that Helicobacter Pylori infection may also be associated with the stomach’s Diffuse large B cell lymphoma. People with large-sized B-cell lymphoma (diffuse large B-cell) of the stomach may have been infected by the Helicobacter Pylori bacteria.


Can lymphomas cause digestive problems?

Yes, Lymphoma, and some of the treatments for lymphoma, can cause bowel problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and flatulence. However, these are usually mild and temporary.

What are the types of gastrointestinal lymphomas?

1. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the stomach (DLBCL)
2. Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue gastric lymphoma (MALT)

What are the symptoms of gastrointestinal lymphoma?

Symptoms associated with gastrointestinal lymphoma include abdominal pain and cramps, unexplained weight loss, malabsorption of the food ingested, rectal bleeding, and severe constipation or bowel obstruction.

Which is worse, Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)?

Hodgkin lymphoma may be less common than Non-Hodgkin, but it is still the most treatable form of cancer. Hodgkin’s is often diagnosed at an early stage and treated because they begin in the upper body, such as the neck, armpit, chest, etc., and is noticeable. However, the NHL starts in the lymph nodes and cannot be easily distinguished.

What is the best treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

In the early stages, when the cancer is small, it can be removed with biopsy, and no further treatments may be needed. However, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often used to treat NHL in its progressive stages.

What is the survival rate of gastrointestinal lymphoma? 

Gastrointestinal lymphoma can develop in many forms and is considered a rare cancer. The outcome of cancer depends upon various factors such as cancer’s subtype, the type of cancer, its metastasis, and the onset of cancer. It’s difficult to estimate the average survival rate of patients.