Small bowel lymphoma

Dr Tim Luijkx and A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

Small bowel lymphoma is the most common small bowel malignancy, accounting accounts for ~25% of all primary small bowel malignancies and ~40% of all primary gastrointestinal lymphomas.

Small bowel lymphoma is most commonly secondary extranodal involvement in widespread systemic lymphoma. When primary it is seen predominantly in well-defined patient groups, and the demographics, therefore, match those groups. Predisposing conditions include 1:

The presentation is variable and includes 1:

The type of lymphoma depends on the underlying predisposing condition.

  • H. pylori:  mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma (MALToma)
  • PTLD: polyclonal B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (EBV-associated)
  • HIV: B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 3, overall most common type
  • T-cell lymphomas are seen but are uncommon 5; they have a greater tendency to perforate

Typically, small-bowel lymphoma involves a single loop of bowel, with 5-20 cm of its length demonstrating 3:

  • bowel wall thickening: 1-7 cm
  • aneurysmal (or pseudoaneurysmal) dilatation (30%): occurs due to the replacement of muscularis by tumour or infiltration of myenteric nerve plexus 6

Despite the extensive involvement, small bowel obstruction is uncommon because of lack of desmoplastic reaction, and perforation is rare.

Regional lymph node enlargement in approximately 50% of cases.

Less frequently, the disease may manifest as a solid mass lesion (polypoidal/excentric). Differentiation from adenocarcinoma may be difficult. However, the presence of extensive retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly favours lymphoma, whereas adjacent fat infiltration supports adenocarcinoma.

Most frequently, the involved segment is resected, with subsequent chemoradiotherapy 2.

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Article information

rID: 7058
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Lymphoma of the small bowel
  • Small bowel lymphoma
  • Lymphoma of the small intestine
  • Small intestinal lymphoma

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Cases and figures

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    Figure 1: gross pathology
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    Case 1: PTLD
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    Figure 2: histopathology
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    Case 2
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    Case 3
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    Case 4: lymphoma at the terminal ileum
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    Case 5: non-Hodgkin lymphoma
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    Case 6: B-cell lymphoma of the duodenum
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