AIDS-Related Lymphoma

At a Glance

  • AIDS-related lymphoma is one of cancer types that are more likely to occur in people who are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • AIDS-related lymphoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lymph system of patients who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
  • Symptoms of AIDS-related lymphoma include weight loss or fever for no known reason, night sweats, painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, chest, underarm, or groin, a feeling of fullness below the ribs.

About AIDS

AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks and weakens the body’s immune system. The immune system is then unable to fight infection and diseases that invade the body. People with HIV disease have an increased risk of developing infections, lymphoma, and other types of cancer. A person with HIV disease who develops certain types of infections or cancer is then diagnosed with AIDS. Sometimes, people are diagnosed with AIDS and AIDS-related lymphoma at the same time.

About Lymph System

Lymphomas are cancers that affect the white blood cells of the lymph system, part of the body’s immune system. The lymph system is made up of the following:
  • Lymph: Colorless, watery fluid that travels through the lymph system and carries white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes protect the body against infections and the growth of tumors.
  • Lymph vessels: A network of thin tubes that collect lymph from different parts of the body and return it to the bloodstream.
  • Lymph nodes: Small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fight infection and disease. Lymph nodes are located along the network of lymph vessels found throughout the body. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarm, pelvis, neck, abdomen, and groin.
  • Spleen: An organ that makes lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells. The spleen is on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
  • Thymus: An organ in which lymphocytes grow and multiply. The thymus is in the chest behind the breastbone.
  • Tonsils: Two small masses of lymph tissue at the back of the throat. The tonsils make lymphocytes.
  • Bone marrow: The soft, spongy tissue in the center of large bones. Bone marrow makes white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.

Types of Lymphomas

Lymphomas are divided into two general types: Both Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma may occur in AIDS patients, but non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common. When a person with AIDS has non-Hodgkin lymphoma, it is called an AIDS-related lymphoma.

Types of 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-cell immunoblastic lymphoma.
  • Small non- cleaved cell lymphoma.

Signs and Symptoms

Possible signs of AIDS-related lymphoma include:
  • Weight loss or fever for no known reason.
  • Night sweats.
  • Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, chest, underarm, or groin.
  • A feeling of fullness below the ribs.
If you have AIDS and have symptoms associated with lymphoma or have recently been diagnosed with AIDS-related lymphoma, contact us to request an appointment for a second opinion with one of our oncologists or to learn more about your treatment options. We offer clinical trials for hematologic malignancies.