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 the patient is carefully monitored for symptom development or signs of progression. It is important to continue regular visits with your medical care team so that significant progression or relapse can be identified early and to watch for and treat any complications that might result from spleen cancer or its treatments.
Common treatments for spleen cancer
Several different therapies are available to treat spleen cancer including:
- Biological therapy to enhance the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells
- Chemotherapy to attack cancer cells
- Participation in a clinical trial testing promising new treatments for spleen cancer
- Radiation therapy to attack cancer cells
- Surgery to remove cancer or alleviate symptoms
- Stem cell transplant to provide healthy stem cells that can make new blood cells
- Targeted therapy to attack cancer cells
- Watchful waiting to identify when to start treatment
Other treatments for spleen cancer
Other therapies may be added to help with your general state of health and any complications of the cancer or its treatment. Such therapies include:
- Antinausea medications if nausea occurs
- Antibiotics and other medications to reduce the likelihood of getting infections
- Blood transfusions to temporarily replace blood components (such as red blood cells or platelets) that have been reduced or lost
- Dental care to manage symptoms that occur in the mouth due to leukemia or chemotherapy
- Dietary counseling to help maintain strength and nutritional status
- Pain medications if needed to increase comfort
- Steroids to counteract autoimmune disorders that can occasionally occur with spleen cancer
- Vaccinations to prevent diseases like the flu and pneumonia
Some complementary treatments may help some people to better deal with spleen cancer and its treatments. These treatments, sometimes referred to as alternative therapies, are used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments. Complementary treatments are not meant to substitute for traditional medical care. Be sure to notify your doctor if you are consuming nutritional supplements or homeopathic (nonprescription) remedies as they may interact with the prescribed medical therapy.
Complementary treatments may include:
- Massage therapy
- Nutritional dietary supplements, herbal remedies, tea beverages, and similar products
In cases in which spleen cancer has progressed to an advanced stage and has become unresponsive to treatment, the goal of treatment may shift away from curing the disease and focus on measures to keep a person comfortable and maximize the quality of life. Hospice care involves medically controlling pain and other symptoms while providing psychological and spiritual support as well as services to support the patient’s family.
What are the potential complications of spleen cancer?
Complications of untreated spleen cancer can be serious, even life threatening in some cases. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of spleen cancer include:
- Adverse effects of treatment
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system targets normal red blood cells)
- Immune deficiency and frequent infections
- Rupture of the spleen
- Spread of cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-hodgkinlymphoma/detailedguide/non-hodgkin-lymphoma-what-is-non-hodg....
- Lymphoma. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. http://www.leukemia.org/all_page?item_id=7030.
- Pizzo PA, Poplack DG (Eds), Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011.
- Siegel R, Naishadham D, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2013. CA Cancer J Clin 2013; 63:11.
- Olszewski AJ, Castillo JJ. Survival of patients with marginal zone lymphoma: analysis of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database. Cancer 2013; 119:629.
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... Read more about spleen cancerintroduction
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 cancerCommon symptoms of spleen cancer include:
- Abdominal pain or fullness, especially in the upper abdomen
- Bone pain or Read more about spleen cancersymptoms
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.