Spleen cancer can include primary cancers originating in the spleen, as well as metastatic cancers spreading from other areas of the body. This body organ has a very large collection of lymph tissue and as a result, many spleen cancers are lymphatic in nature. Available treatments vary depending on the type of cancer and how far it has progressed. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are all potential treatment options for spleen cancer.
Lymphatic cancers of the spleen include T-cell lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Common non-Hodgkin's lymphomas found in the spleen are: hairy cell leukemia; mantle cell lymphoma; and various forms of B-cell lymphoma. Lymphomas all originate in the cells found in lymphatic tissue and they can spread rapidly through the lymph circulation, presenting serious health risks. Lymphoma can also spread from other parts of the body to the spleen via the lymph circulation.
Primary tumors, particularly hemangiosarcoma, can also develop in the spleen. These tumors arise from non-lymph tissue in the spleen and may vary in terms of malignancy. Treatment for tumors usually involves surgery to remove the cancer, followed by treatment to kill any lingering cancer cells in the patient's body.
Cancers in other parts of the body can travel to the spleen. In these cases, they are named for the part of the body they originated in and described as metastases. Thus, people can have a diagnosis like metastatic breast cancer in the spleen. Treatment of these cancers can be more challenging, as their spread through the body makes them harder to eradicate effectively, even with medications.
People with spleen cancer can experience symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, abdominal tenderness, and frequent infections. Medical imaging of the spleen may reveal enlargement and it is possible to take a biopsy for examination in a lab to identify the cancer and determine the staging. When diagnosed, patients may want to discuss treatment options with several physicians to get an idea of the range of choices available to them. It is important to ask about the prognosis with different courses of treatment to make an informed decision about the most suitable option.
Cancers of the spleen can also develop in animals, where they are often noticed too late for effective treatments to be available. Pet owners can catch cancers earlier by taking their pets for regular veterinary checkups and being alert to behavioral changes in their animals.