The two primary types of spleen tumors are malignant tumors and benign tumors. A mass that is found to be malignant can be caused by a variety of cancers, as the spleen can be affected by metastatic cancers from elsewhere in the body. Lymphoma is the most common primary cancer which occurs in the spleen, since it is part of the lymphatic system. Benign tumors are sometimes filled with normal dead cells or fluid, or sometimes their source is not found.
Splenic tumors are often caused by cancer, primarily lymphoma. Lymphoma is either characterized as Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and it generally begins in the lymphatic tissue which is found in lymph nodes and in various organs. The spleen is part of the lymphatic system, and cancer cells can easily spread from the nodes into the spleen. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is most likely to begin in the spleen or bone marrow.
Sometimes malignant tumors may be caused by cancers which began in another part of the body. Cancer of nearly any organ or tissue can eventually spread to any other organ. Treatments and symptoms may vary slightly when non-primary cancers are the cause of tumors, although they are often similar.
Symptoms of cancer in the spleen can include loss of appetite and weight loss, fatigue, abdominal discomfort, and itching of the hands and feet. These are true primarily of lymphoma, and cancer which begins elsewhere in the body may present additional symptoms. Treatment for malignant splenic tumors can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Benign spleen tumors are not cancerous and they do not usually present serious complications. Some disappear on their own if given enough time, while others may cause issues if they become large or cause the spleen to swell. These tumors are normally removed surgically. Symptoms of benign tumors are similar to cancerous ones, and can include loss of appetite and abdominal pain.
It is often hard to tell if a spleen tumor is present. Symptoms can be vague and many people do not see a doctor until several years after onset. Since early detection and treatment of any type of cancer is crucial for survival, it is recommended that any unusual symptoms be reported to a doctor as soon as possible.
Splenic tumors are also relatively common in canines. Many of these are malignant. Prognosis is generally poor, although some dogs live a year or more after diagnosis. Veterinary treatments are similar to those used in humans.