Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Primary CNS Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Primary CNS Lymphoma

Primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma is defined as lymphoma limited to the cranial-spinal axis without systemic disease. An increasing incidence of this disease has been seen among patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and among other immunocompromised persons. The natural history of this disorder differs between patients with AIDS and those without AIDS. Computed tomographic (CT) scans may show ring enhancement in 50% of AIDS patients while patients without AIDS almost always show only homogeneous enhancement.[1] Both groups do equally poorly without therapy (1–3 month mean survival), but the overall survival for treated patients is much better for patients without AIDS (18.9 months) than for those with AIDS (2.6 months).[1,2]

Poor prognostic factors include the following:[3,4,5]

Recommended Related to Cancer

Palliative Sedation

Sedation may be considered for comfort. Patients with advanced cancer or near the end of life may have: A lot of emotional distress and physical pain. Difficult and painful breathing. Confusion (especially when body systems begin to fail). Sedation can be given to ease these conditions. This is called palliative sedation. Deciding to use palliative sedation may be difficult for the family as well as the patient. The patient and family can get support from the health care team and...

Read the Palliative Sedation article > >

  • Age older than 50 years.[5]
  • Performance status greater than 1 or Karnofsky performance status less than 70.[5]
  • Elevated serum level of lactate dehydrogenase.
  • Elevated cerebrospinal fluid protein concentration.
  • Involvement of nonhemispheric areas of the brain (periventricular, basal ganglia, brainstem, and cerebellum).

When tumor progression occurs, it is usually confined to the CNS and/or the eye. Occult systemic disease can be excluded by staging with bone marrow biopsy and CT scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.[6,7]

In one prospective, case series of 282 patients, 17% were found to have meningeal dissemination by cytomorphology, polymerase chain reaction of rearranged immunoglobulin heavy-chain genes, or meningeal enhancement on magnetic resonance imaging.[8] The clinical impact of meningeal involvement on prognosis and therapy remains to be evaluated.

Although more than 95% of patients with primary CNS lymphoma have lymphoma of B-cell origin, 45 patients with CNS lymphoma of T-cell origin showed no difference in presentation or outcome in a retrospective series with data collected from 12 cancer centers.[9] Almost all primary CNS lymphomas are aggressive neoplasms of the diffuse large B-cell type. In a retrospective case series derived from 18 cancer centers in five countries of 40 patients with low-grade primary CNS lymphoma, a better long-term outcome was shown (7-year median survival) than is associated with the usual aggressive CNS lymphoma.[10][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] Anecdotal cases of primary CNS Hodgkin lymphoma have also been reported.[11]

Related Summaries

Note: Other PDQ summaries containing information related to primary CNS lymphoma include:

  • Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment
  • Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment

References:

  1. Fine HA, Mayer RJ: Primary central nervous system lymphoma. Ann Intern Med 119 (11): 1093-104, 1993.
  2. Nasir S, DeAngelis LM: Update on the management of primary CNS lymphoma. Oncology (Huntingt) 14 (2): 228-34; discussion 237-42, 244, 2000.
  3. Ferreri AJ, Blay JY, Reni M, et al.: Prognostic scoring system for primary CNS lymphomas: the International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group experience. J Clin Oncol 21 (2): 266-72, 2003.
  4. Pollack IF, Lunsford LD, Flickinger JC, et al.: Prognostic factors in the diagnosis and treatment of primary central nervous system lymphoma. Cancer 63 (5): 939-47, 1989.
  5. Abrey LE, Ben-Porat L, Panageas KS, et al.: Primary central nervous system lymphoma: the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center prognostic model. J Clin Oncol 24 (36): 5711-5, 2006.
  6. O'Neill BP, Dinapoli RP, Kurtin PJ, et al.: Occult systemic non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in patients initially diagnosed as primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL): how much staging is enough? J Neurooncol 25 (1): 67-71, 1995.
  7. Abrey LE, Batchelor TT, Ferreri AJ, et al.: Report of an international workshop to standardize baseline evaluation and response criteria for primary CNS lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 23 (22): 5034-43, 2005.
  8. Fischer L, Martus P, Weller M, et al.: Meningeal dissemination in primary CNS lymphoma: prospective evaluation of 282 patients. Neurology 71 (14): 1102-8, 2008.
  9. Shenkier TN, Blay JY, O'Neill BP, et al.: Primary CNS lymphoma of T-cell origin: a descriptive analysis from the international primary CNS lymphoma collaborative group. J Clin Oncol 23 (10): 2233-9, 2005.
  10. Jahnke K, Korfel A, O'Neill BP, et al.: International study on low-grade primary central nervous system lymphoma. Ann Neurol 59 (5): 755-62, 2006.
  11. Gerstner ER, Abrey LE, Schiff D, et al.: CNS Hodgkin lymphoma. Blood 112 (5): 1658-61, 2008.
1

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Building a Support System
Blog
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
 
precancerous lesions slideshow
SLIDESHOW
quit smoking tips
SLIDESHOW
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article