Abdominal Lymphoma

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This entry looks at one of those types of lymphoma sometimes referred to simply as abdominal lymphoma. 'Lymphoma' is an umbrella term that loosely refers to several dozen independent categorical types and subtypes of cancers of the lymphatic system.

What is abdominal lymphoma?

Abdominal lymphoma is not a clinical diagnosis; the term does not represent a distinctly identified cancer. Instead, the term might best be considered an early descriptive term of a suspected lymphoma subtype that has as its primary site an area within the abdomen.

For instance, a person may be experiencing some pain or discomfort in their abdominal area, either from some enlarged abdominal lymph nodes or from a bulky mass that has developed on their spleen, liver, or along the gastro-intestinal tract. If a PET/CT scan indicated cancerous activity there, the patient would likely have one of the swollen nodes biopsied. From there, the pathologist would make a more detailed determination of precisely what subtype of abdominal lymphoma is actually developing in the abdominal area. There are a few possibilities, such as:

-- Splenic marginal zone lymphoma (SMZL)
-- Nodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma
-- Extranodal marginal B-cell lymphoma of MALT type
-- Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Abdominal lymphoma and the nearby lymph nodes

The lymph node clusters most closely associated with abdominal lymphoma that develops in the abdomen are the mesenteric and the paraaortic lymph nodes, both clusters of which are located approximately around one's waistline, behind the intestines, and the iliac nodes, which are slightly lower than the first two sets and closer to the lower part of the abdomen.

Part of the recommended work-up and clinical staging for any suspected abdominal lymphoma is a CT scan of the abdominal region and therefore help doctors make the right diagnosis so that the best possible treatment plans can be discussed. Because abdominal lymphoma is not a true subtype but rather could represent several different subtypes, it's impossible to know with any certainty anything regarding prognosis or survival rates. That information could only follow a proper diagnosis.

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