Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Lymphomas begin in the lymph tissue in the wall of the small intestine. Lymphoma is the third most common type of cancer that occurs in the small intestine. Lymphomas account for about 15%–20% of all small intestine cancers.
Hodgkin lymphoma of the gastrointestinaI (GI) tract is very rare. Small intestine lymphomas are usually non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL).
Lymphomas can occur in any part of the small intestine, but they most often occur in the ileum where there is the highest concentration of lymph tissue. About 20% of small intestine lymphomas develop in multiple sites.
The most common signs and symptoms of a small intestine lymphoma include abdominal pain, weight loss, bleeding, infection due to perforation and a mass in the abdomen that can be felt. People with lymphoma of the small intestine often do not have some of the typical signs of lymphoma like fever, night sweats and enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy).
Doctors may do exploratory surgery to correctly diagnose and stage an NHL of the small intestine. Lymphomas in the small intestine are staged the same as other NHLs.