Thymic Lymphoma

This entry looks at thymic lymphoma, better known as primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, 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 the Thymus?

The thymus is a small organ located below the neck and just above the heart. It is one of two primary organs in the lymphatic system, along with the bone marrow. The purpose of the thymus is to generate T-cells to distribute throughout the body to fight against infections. Curiously, it reaches its maximum size at puberty and then begins to shrink—both physically as well as in output—as we age, eventually being overtaken in our elderly years by fatty tissue.

What is Thymic Lymphoma?

When cancer develops here it will be classified in one of two ways: if the cancer is in the cells that constitute the outer covering of the thymus, that is called thymoma or thymic carcinoma (carcinomas refer to cancers of epithelial cells in surrounding tissue, as opposed to connective tissue). If cancer develops from the lymphocytes in the thymus, it is thymic lymphoma.

Since the thymus is located in an area of the body referred to as the mediastinum, it is often called primary mediastinal lymphoma.

What are Some Symptoms of Thymic Lymphoma?

Similar to other lymphomas, the symptoms associated with thymic lymphoma are non-specific and can be interpreted to be many different things. They are:

  • Painless, swollen lymph nodes
  • Fevers
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Respiratory problems (coughing, chest pain, breathlessness
  • Swelling in the neck, arms or face (caused by superior vena cava obstructions

Treatment and Prognosis of Thymic Lymphoma

Because this cancer is so rare, the optimal treatment for thymic lymphoma remains in dispute. However, this is a very aggressive form of lymphoma, and induction therapy is crucial as soon as possible. Various combination chemotherapy regimens have been tested against this lymphoma, all with varying results. They are sometimes followed up by radiotherapy, and in severe cases, with stem cell transplantation.

Sources

Macmillan Cancer Support, Mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma

Johnson PW, Davies AJ. Primary Mediastinal B-cell lymphoma Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2008:349-58.

More Articles

More Articles

This entry looks at Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma in the lungs, clinically known as pulmonary lymphoma, one of the subtypes of lymphoma. 'Lymphoma' is an...

In order to prevent developing any subtype of lymphoma, it would be helpful to know the causes of lymphoma. Unfortunately, in virtually every case...

BEAM chemotherapy is an acronym representing a small family of combination chemotherapy regimens that are used chiefly as salvage regimens in the...

There are two types of cancer: benign and malignant. Benign cancers are the kind that don't spread and don't threaten one's life. Malignant...

The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR - sometimes called sed rate or sedimentation rate) is a nonspecific screening test for various...

Blood counts can be used to identify disease and monitor patient health during cancer treatments. Though these tests cannot diagnose lymphoma on...

MALT lymphoma is a rare B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that typically runs an indolent or slow-growing clinical...

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is just one of 50-60 known B-cell subtypes of...

After some of the dust has settled, the thoughts of many new lymphoma patients turn to diet and nutrition. They want to know if, in the past,...

According to a study by Japanese researchers, the SMILE combination chemotherapy protocol is effective against extranodal natural killer/T-cell...

In a perfect world, every case of cancer would respond to, and be cured by first-line therapy. Unfortunately, it is not often the case. This is...

Patients treated with maintenance rituximab had three times longer progression-free survival. This is a summary of an article published in the...

Prednisone is a glucocorticosteroid (a steroid) used in the treatment of many types of cancers. It functions as an anti-inflammatory medicine that...

In 1964, researchers at the National Cancer Institute developed the first combination chemotherapy that cured a...

Since so many chemotherapy agents can affect a patient’s sex drive and fertility, thinking about these issues prior...