Diffuse Colonic Mantle Cell Lymphoma in a Patient with Presumed Ulcerative Colitis: Detection of a Precursor Monoclonal Lymphoid Population Using Polymerase Chain Reaction and Immunohistochemistry

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Primary lymphoma of the colon, a rare and typically late complication of ulcerative colitis, exhibits high-grade morphology and behavior when it occurs. Recently, several reports of colonic lymphoma masquerading as ulcerative colitis have been described. These previous reports described inflammatory mucosal changes typical of ulcerative colitis as being present in superficial biopsies, leading to the initial diagnosis of ulcerative colitis; however, further workup resulted in a diagnosis of primary colonic lymphoma within several months in these cases, and all symptoms and mucosal changes resolved after treatment of the lymphoma. Herein we report a case of mantle cell lymphoma arising in the colon and rectum in a 71-year-old woman with a 4-year history of ulcerative colitis. Immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene rearrangements were detected using the polymerase chain reaction procedure in fixed tissue in the lymphoma as well as in a prior resection specimen that histologically appeared to show only changes of severe ulcerative colitis. This finding suggests that an indolent lymphoid proliferation may have been the underlying disease in this patient and raises questions about the role of colonic lymphoma in causing mucosal injury.

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