What is spleen cancer?

The spleen is an organ located under the ribs on the left side of the body. It is part of the lymphatic system, which is composed of lymph nodes, lymph vessels, lymphatic fluid, the tonsils, thymus, spleen, and lymphoid tissue of the digestive tract. The spleen filters the blood and helps the body fight infections.

Most splenic cancers do not start in the spleen, and those that do are almost always lymphomas. Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. It is more common for a lymphoma to start in another part of the lymphatic system and invade the spleen than it is for lymphoma to start in the spleen itself.

Leukemias, which start in the bone marrow, are another type of blood cancer that can invade the spleen. Uncommonly, some other types of cancers that are located elsewhere in the body can spread, or metastasize, to the spleen. These include lung cancers, stomach cancers, pancreatic cancers, liver cancers, and colon cancers.

Symptoms of spleen cancer can be vague and may resemble those of a cold. If the spleen enlarges, pain or fullness of the upper abdomen may be noticed. Treatment of spleen cancer depends on the cause of the cancer and the extent to which it has spread.

Complications of spleen cancer requiring emergency care are rare, but may include severe infection or rupture of the spleen. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for symptoms such as night sweats, difficulty breathing, pale or blue lips and fingernails, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), confusion or loss of consciousness, or fever and chills.


SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of spleen cancer?

Symptoms of spleen cancer may be related to enlargement of the spleen, decreased infection-fighting ability in general, or to the specific type of cancer.

Common symptoms of spleen cancer

Common symptoms of spleen cancer include:

CAUSES

What causes spleen cancer?

The reason that some cancers develop in or spread to the spleen is not known. But some risk factors have been identified for lymphoma and leukemia, which can involve the spleen.

What are the risk factors for spleen cancer?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing leukemia and lymphoma, cancers that may involve the spleen. Not all people with risk factors will... Read more about spleen cancercauses

TREATMENTS

How is spleen cancer treated?

Goal of cancer treatment

The goal of spleen cancer treatment is to permanently cure the cancer or to bring about a complete remission of the disease. Remission means that there is no longer any sign of the disease in the body, although it may recur or relapse later.

Some types of leukemia and lymphoma are slow-growing and may initially be treated conservatively, meaning... Read more about spleen cancertreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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