Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma

Primary central nervous system lymphoma (CNS) is an aggressiveLymphomas that are fast growing and generally need to be treated immediately. Also called intermediate-grade or high-grade lymphomas. form of NHL in which malignantA tumor which is cancerous. (cancerAbnormal cell growth that cannot be controlled by the body's natural defenses. Cancerous cells can grow and eventually form tumors.) cells form in the lymphThe watery fluid in the lymph system that contains white blood cells (lymphocytes). tissue of the brain and/or spinal cord. It may develop in the brain, spinal cord, eye, or leptomeninges (two of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).

When lymphoma has originated in other parts of the body and subsequently has spread to the CNS, it is referred to as secondary CNS lymphoma. The main symptoms of CNS lymphoma are focal neurological deficits (i.e., problems with nerve, spinal cord, or brain function), but headaches, vomiting, confusion, seizures, personality changes, and blurred vision can also occur.

The cause of CNS lymphoma is unknown, but there are some factors that may increase the risk of developing it, such as infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); a compromised immune systemOne of the body's defense mechanisms. All lymphomas are a disease of the immune system. (which may be the case for people with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS] or patients who have undergone organ transplant); exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, solvents, or fertilizers; and a family history of NHL.

Having one or more of these risk factorsFactors that may increase the chance that a person will develop NHL. does not mean a person will develop NHL. Most people with risk factors never develop the disease and many people diagnosed have never been exposed to any clearly identifiable risk factors.

To learn more about primary central nervous system lymphoma, download the Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma Fact Sheet.