What is CNS lymphoma?

Central nervous system lymphoma (commonly called CNS lymphoma) is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the lymph tissue of the brain and/or spinal cord.

The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and is made up of the lymph, lymph vessels, lymph node, spleen, thymus, tonsils and bone marrow.

Lymphocytes carried in the lymph travel in and out of the central nervous system.

Cancer cells form in the lymphatic tissue in the brain; this is often in an area called the cerebrum.

What are the symptoms of CNS lymphoma?

CNS lymphoma symptoms may include:

  • An increase in pressure within the skull
  • Changes in behavior and personality 
  • Seizures
  • Changes in balance and movement
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Problems with vision

CNS lymphoma treatment

Treatment for CNS lymphoma will depend on your situation and general health.

The most common CNS lymphoma treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy: This is usually the main treatment for CNS lymphoma. It uses anti-cancer medications to destroy cancer cells. Your physician will discuss chemotherapy options with you.
  • Radiotherapy: This CNS lymphoma treatment uses high-energy rays to destroy the cancer cells.
  • Steroids: This treatment is used to reduce swelling around the lymphoma and may shrink it. Steroids improve symptoms and help you feel better. If you have raise pressure in the brain, you will be treated with steroids right away.