Gastrointestinal Lymphoma


This entry looks at gastrointestinal lymphoma, better recognized as primary gastric lymphoma, or PGL, one of the subtypes of 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 Gastrointestinal Lymphoma?

The gastrointestinal tract is the most common extranodal site for lymphoma, and PGL accounts for a strong minority of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (between 7-20%). While PGL is almost always of B-cell origin, gastric NHLs of T-cell origin have been reported. Abdominal pain and nausea are some of the main symptoms of PGL. This disease can present as either indolent or aggressive, but according to studies the difference in survival rates is not statistically significant between the two.

Survival Rates for Gastrointestinal Lymphoma

According to at least one published retrospective study of patients with gastrointestinal lymphoma, the 5-year survival rate, meaning the percentage of people with this cancer who are alive five years from diagnosis, is the following:

Early stage: 80%
Advanced stage: 53.3%

However, this study on gastrointestinal lymphoma determined that the therapeutic intervention that offered the highest 5 year survival rate was one that included surgical resection (removal) of a GI tumor followed by combination chemotherapy, as these patients enjoyed a 90.9% 5 year survival rate. This is considered a change in direction for treatment approaches to gastrointestinal lymphoma, as up until recently while there was controversy over the best treatment, it was generally believed that surgery did not play an important role.

There is a subtype of PGL, a MALT lymphoma caused by the bacteria H. pylori. When patients are diagnosed with this subtype, they generally only require antibiotic treatment.


Ennibi K et al. Primary gastric lymphoma: a retrospective series of 35 cases Tunis Med. 2008 May;86(5):457-62.

Waisberg J et al. Curative resection plus adjuvant chemotherapy for early stage primary gastric non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: a retrospective study with emphasis on prognostic factors and treatment outcome. Arq Gastroenterol. 2006 Jan-Mar;43(1):30-6.

Kacar, Füruzan; Levi, Edi; Dikicioglu, Emel; Meteoglu, Ibrahim; Et al. "Primary gastric T-cell lymphoma: A case report." Turkish Journal of Cancer. Turkish Association for Cancer Research and Control. 2004.

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