AIDS-related Lymphoma

AIDS-related lymphoma is a disease in which cancer or malignant cells are found in the lymph systems of patients who have AIDS.

The lymph system is made up of thin tubes that branch, like blood vessels, into all parts of the body. Lymph vessels carry lymph, a colorless, watery fluid that contains white blood cells called lymphocytes. Along the network of vessels are groups of small, bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes. Clusters of lymph nodes make and store infection-fighting cells. The spleen, an organ in the upper abdomen that makes lymphocytes and filters old blood cells from the blood; the thymus, a small organ beneath the breastbone; and the tonsils, an organ in the throat, are part of the lymph system.

Because there is lymph tissue in many parts of the body, the cancer can spread to almost any of the body’s organs or tissues including the liver, bone marrow (spongy tissue inside the large bones of the body that makes blood cells), spleen or brain.


See a doctor if any of the following symptoms persist for longer than two weeks:

  • Painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm or groin
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Itchy skin
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.