AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks and weakens the body's immune system. The immune system is then unable to fight infection and diseases that invade the body. People with HIV disease have an increased risk of developing infections, lymphoma, and other types of cancer. A person with HIV disease who develops certain types of infections or cancer is then diagnosed with AIDS. Sometimes, people are diagnosed with AIDS and AIDS-related lymphoma at the same time. For information about AIDS and its treatment, please see the AIDSinfo Web site.
Lymphomas are cancers that affect the white blood cells of the lymph system, part of the body's immune system. The lymph system is
made up of the following:
Lymphomas are divided into two general types: Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Both Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may occur in AIDS patients, but non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is more common. When a person with AIDS has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, it is called an AIDS-related lymphoma.
For more information, see the following PDQ summaries:
Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas are grouped by the way their cells look under a microscope. They may be indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing). AIDS-related lymphoma is usually aggressive. There are three main types of AIDS-related lymphoma:
These and other symptoms may be caused by AIDS-related lymphoma. Other
conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems
The following tests and procedures may be used:
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on
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