Because lupus and lymphoma both affect your immune system, they share some symptoms and can sometimes be mistaken for each other. Having lupus may also increase your risk of lymphoma.
Lupus is a disease that affects your immune system. It causes your body to attack your organs, tissues, and cells. Lupus can increase your risk of other conditions, including certain cancers like lymphoma.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells, which are also part of your immune system. There are many types of lymphoma. They’re usually categorized as either Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).
Lupus may increase your risk of HL or NHL, though NHL appears to be more closely linked to lupus. People in the early stages of NHL may also be more likely to develop lupus, although more research is needed to understand why.
Lupus can increase your risk of lymphoma and some other types of cancer by as much as
Researchers think it may be partly due to some lupus medications that suppress your body’s immune response. A weak immune system can allow cancer to grow or spread. Lupus also causes chronic inflammation, which is linked to a higher risk of some cancers and other chronic conditions.
Just because there’s an increased risk doesn’t mean you will develop cancer if you have lupus. Healthcare professionals usually screen for cancer as part of lupus treatment.
Some organizations, such as the Lupus Foundation of America, say the study results should just be a reminder to be mindful of your health if you’re living with lupus.
Cancers associated with lupus
Lupus is associated with an increased risk of several cancers and a lower risk of others.
According to a
- lymphoma (Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s)
- multiple myeloma
- cervical cancer
- vaginal or vulvar cancer
- renal cancer
- bladder cancer
- esophageal cancer
- gastric cancer
- hepatobiliary cancer
- lung cancer
- oropharyngeal (throat) cancer
- laryngeal cancer
- nonmelanoma skin cancer
- thyroid cancer
Lupus may decrease the risk of:
Some research suggests people in the early stages of NHL may be more likely to develop lupus.
More research is needed to understand why, but some experts think the two conditions develop from shared factors, with lymphoma simply developing first.
Lymphoma may also affect your immune system in ways that encourage the development of lupus and other autoimmune diseases.
- fevers without a clear cause
- extreme tiredness
- joint pain and swelling
Sometimes, the symptoms of lupus can overlap with the symptoms of lymphoma.
For example, swollen lymph nodes are one of the most common lymphoma symptoms, but they can also be a lupus symptom.
Lymph nodes are glands that store your white blood cells and can also sometimes make them. Lymph nodes are clustered in your neck, groin, armpit, and the center of your chest and abdomen.
Other lymphoma symptoms include:
- unexplained weight loss
- chest or abdominal pain
Can lymphoma be misdiagnosed as lupus?
Because lupus and lymphoma have some symptoms in common, one can sometimes
Fever and swollen lymph nodes are common symptoms of both conditions. Even blood tests can reveal similar findings for lupus and early lymphoma, according to a
Can lupus be misdiagnosed as lymphoma?
It’s less common for doctors to misdiagnose lupus as lymphoma, but
Experts sometimes call lupus “the great imitator” because its symptoms can mimic
If you have lupus and develop lymphoma, early treatment is essential. Your treatment will depend on the type of lymphoma you have.
- doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
- bleomycin (Blenoxane)
- vinblastine (Velban)
- dacarbazine (DTIC)
Researchers are also looking into stem cell transplants to cure lymphoma and lupus.
Lupus has a survival rate of
People with lupus may be more likely to develop lymphoma and some other types of cancer. People with lymphoma may also be more likely to receive a diagnosis of lupus, especially in the early stages.
Lupus and lymphoma both affect your immune system. Researchers are still trying to understand the relationship between the two.
Because they share some common symptoms, they can sometimes be mistaken for each other. Your doctor may order extra tests to ensure you get the correct diagnosis.
If you have both conditions, your outcome may depend on the stage at which lymphoma is diagnosed, so early detection is vital.