Clinicopathological analysis of primary central nervous system NK/T cell lymphoma: rare and localized aggressive tumour among extranasal NK/T cell tumours

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Abstract

Aims:

The central nervous system (CNS) is a rare primary site of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Although direct invasion of nasal natural killer (NK)/T cell tumours into CNS is reported occasionally, primary CNS NK/T cell lymphoma is extremely rare, and the clinicopathological features of primary CNS NK/T cell lymphoma remain largely unknown.

Methods and results:

We identified four cases from our consultation files and analysed the clinicopathological features. Three were immunocompetent and one was immunosuppressed. There were three males and one female and their ages ranged from 21 to 77 years (median: 46 years). Radiotherapy was rendered for all patients, and methotrexate was administered to two patients. The overall survival was 4–29 months (median, 19 months) for the three immunocompetent patients. Neoplastic cells exhibited medium to large atypical nuclei. Angiocentric growth and necrosis were observed. The immunophenotype was typical of NK cell tumours: CD3ε, 100%; CD56, 67%; CD5, 50%; cytotoxic molecules, 100%; Epstein-Barr virus encoded small RNA (EBER), 100% and T cell receptor (TCR)-β or γ, 0%. No TCR-gene rearrangements were detected. Reviewing 10 additional cases from the literature and comparing with extranasal NK/T cell lymphoma of the more frequent origins (skin or gastrointestinal tract), primary CNS NK/T cell lymphoma was diagnosed at an earlier stage without B symptoms but exhibited aggressive clinical behaviours.

Conclusions:

Although extremely rare, primary CNS NK/T cell lymphoma does occur and should always be included in the differential diagnosis and we should apply relevant markers routinely in conjunction with exploring the patient background. The accumulation of cases is indispensable to establish an effective treatment strategy for this rare and aggressive malignancy.

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