Primary lymphoma of the brain

Alternative Names

Brain lymphoma; Cerebral lymphoma; Primary lymphoma of the central nervous system; Lymphoma – brain

Definition of Primary lymphoma of the brain

Primary lymphoma of the brain is cancer of the lymph cells that starts in the brain.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of primary brain lymphoma is unknown. It is more common in people ages 45 – 70.

Signs and tests

The following tests may be performed to help diagnose a primary lymphoma of the brain:


The condition is usually first treated with corticosteroids to control any local swelling and improve symptoms. However, may increase survival by 3 – 4 years, or longer. The chemotherapy is usually high doses of methotrexate given through a vein (intravenously) or a (intrathecally).

Expectations (prognosis)

The survival of untreated primary brain lymphoma is under 2 months. Treated with chemotherapy, patients often survive 3 – 4 years or more. About 40% of patients are alive at 5 years. In general, older patients have a worse outlook than younger patients.


David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. – 3/2/2010


ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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