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Leukemia & Lymphoma

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Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Cellular Classification of Childhood NHL

Table 2. Major Histopathological Categories of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Children and Adolescentsa continued...

Lymphoblastic lymphoma

Lymphoblastic lymphoma comprises approximately 20% of childhood NHL.[2,3,17] Lymphoblastic lymphomas are usually positive for TdT, with more than 75% having a T-cell immunophenotype and the remainder having a precursor B-cell phenotype.[3,33] Chromosomal abnormalities are not well characterized in patients with lymphoblastic lymphoma.

As many as 75% of patients with lymphoblastic lymphoma will present with an anterior mediastinal mass, which may manifest as dyspnea, wheezing, stridor, dysphagia, or swelling of the head and neck. Pleural effusions may be present, and the involvement of lymph nodes, usually above the diaphragm, may be a prominent feature. There may also be involvement of bone, skin, bone marrow, CNS, abdominal organs (but rarely bowel), and occasionally other sites such as lymphoid tissue of Waldeyer ring and testes. Abdominal involvement is less than observed in Burkitt lymphoma. Low-stage lymphoblastic lymphoma may occur in lymph nodes, bone, testes, or subcutaneous tissue. Lymphoblastic lymphoma within the mediastinum is not considered low-stage disease.

Involvement of the bone marrow may lead to confusion as to whether the patient has lymphoma with bone marrow involvement or leukemia with extramedullary disease. Traditionally, patients with more than 25% marrow blasts are considered to have leukemia, and those with fewer than 25% marrow blasts are considered to have lymphoma. It is not yet clear whether these arbitrary definitions are biologically distinct or relevant for treatment design.

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma accounts for approximately 10% of childhood NHL.[17] While the predominant immunophenotype of anaplastic large cell lymphoma is mature T-cell, null-cell disease (i.e., no T-cell, B-cell, or NK-cell surface antigen expression) does occur. The WHO classification system classifies anaplastic large cell lymphoma as a peripheral T-cell lymphoma.[4] Many view ALK-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma differently than other peripheral T-cell lymphoma because prognosis tends to be superior to other forms of peripheral T-cell lymphoma.[34] All anaplastic large cell lymphoma cases are CD30-positive and more than 90% of pediatric anaplastic large cell lymphoma cases have a chromosomal rearrangement involving the ALK gene. About 85% of these chromosomal rearrangements will be t(2;5)(p23;q35), leading to the expression of the fusion protein NPM-ALK; the other 15% of cases are comprised of variant ALK translocations.[35] Anti-ALK immunohistochemical staining pattern is quite specific for the type of ALK translocation. Cytoplasm and nuclear ALK staining is associated with NPM-ALK fusion protein, whereas cytoplasmic staining only of ALK is associated with the variant ALK translocations.[35] There is no correlation between outcome and ALK translocation type.[36] In a series of 375 children and adolescents with systemic ALK-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma, the presence of a small cell or lymphohistiocytic component was observed in 32% of patients and was significantly associated with a high risk of failure in the multivariate analysis, controlling for clinical characteristics (hazard ratio, 2.0; P = .002).[37]

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