General Information About AIDS-Related Lymphoma
AIDS-related lymphomas grow and spread quickly.
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas are grouped by the way their cells look under a microscope. They may be indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing). AIDS-related lymphoma is usually aggressive. There are three main types of AIDS-related lymphoma:
- Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
- B-cellimmunoblastic lymphoma.
- Small non-cleaved cell lymphoma.
Possible signs of AIDS-related lymphoma include weight loss, fever, and night sweats.
These and other symptoms may be caused by AIDS-related lymphoma. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:
- Weight loss or fever for no known reason.
- Night sweats. (For more information, see the PDQ summary on Fever, Sweats, and Hot Flashes.)
- Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, chest, underarm, or groin.
- A feeling of fullness below the ribs.
Tests that examine the body and lymph system are used to help detect (find) and diagnose AIDS-related lymphoma.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
- Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
- Complete blood count (CBC): A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the following:
- The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
- The amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells.
- The portion of the sample made up of red blood cells.
Complete blood count (CBC). Blood is collected by inserting a needle into a vein and allowing the blood to flow into a tube. The blood sample is sent to the laboratory and the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are counted. The CBC is used to test for, diagnose, and monitor many different conditions.
- Lymph node biopsy: The removal of all or part of a lymph node. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells. One of the following types of biopsies may be done:
- Excisional biopsy: The removal of an entire lymph node.
- Incisional biopsy: The removal of part of a lymph node.
- Core biopsy: The removal of tissue from a lymph node using a wide needle.
- Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: The removal of tissue from a lymph node using a thin needle.
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: The removal of bone marrow, blood, and a small piece of bone by inserting a hollow needle into the hipbone or breastbone. A pathologist views the bone marrow, blood, and bone under a microscope to look for abnormal cells.
Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. After a small area of skin is numbed, a Jamshidi needle (a long, hollow needle) is inserted into the patient's hip bone. Samples of blood, bone, and bone marrow are removed for examination under a microscope.
- HIV test: A test to measure the level of HIV antibodies in a sample of blood. Antibodies are made by the body when it is invaded by a foreign substance. A high level of HIV antibodies may mean the body has been infected with HIV.
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) test: A test to measure the level of EBV antibodies in a sample of blood, tissue, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Antibodies are made by the body when it is invaded by a foreign substance. A high level of EBV antibodies may mean the body has been infected with EBV.
- Chest x-ray: An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
- The stage of the cancer.
- The number of CD4 lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) in the blood.
- Whether the patient has ever had AIDS-related infections.
- The patient's ability to carry out regular daily activities.