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AIDS-related cancers are more likely to occur in people who infected with the human immunodeficiency virus. Learn about AIDS-related cancers, such as Kaposi's sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and find information on how we support and care for people with AIDS-related cancers before, during, and after treatment.
The Hematologic Oncology Center provides specialized care for all types of cancers of the blood, including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia.
The center also includes the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation program, which is one of the largest and most experienced in the world.
To make sure your care is as seamless as possible, a dedicated team of clinicians, who are highly specialized experts in your type of blood cancer, will care for you throughout the treatment process, from diagnosis though long-term follow-up.
Your care team will include oncologists, surgeons, hematologists, physician assistants, nurses, and clinical social workers who are committed to delivering safe, high-quality patient care.
We develop personalized, comprehensive treatment plans for all our patients, offering the latest therapies and supportive resources and taking your individual needs into account.
In addition to conventional treatment approaches, you may have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials that offer access to new, innovative treatments for your type of cancer.
A variety of services and programs also support your care, including nutrition services, emotional support and counseling, pain management, donor services for stem cell transplantation, and support for cancer survivors.
Learn more about treatment and care in the Hematologic Oncology Center
New patients: See Center page for phone numbers by treatment program
All other inquiries: 617-632-6140
AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks and weakens the body's immune system. The immune system is then unable to fight infection and diseases that invade the body. People with HIV disease have an increased risk of developing infections, lymphoma, and other types of cancer. A person with HIV disease who develops certain types of infections or cancer is then diagnosed with AIDS. Sometimes, people are diagnosed with AIDS and AIDS-related lymphoma at the same time. For information about AIDS and its treatment, please see the AIDSinfo Web site.
Lymphomas are cancers that affect the white blood cells of the lymph system, part of the body's immune system. The lymph system is made up of the following:
Lymphomas are divided into two general types: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma may occur in AIDS patients, but non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common. When a person with AIDS has non-Hodgkin lymphoma, it is called an AIDS-related lymphoma.
For more information, see the following PDQ summaries:
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas are grouped by the way their cells look under a microscope. They may be indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing). AIDS-related lymphoma is usually aggressive. There are three main types of AIDS-related lymphoma:
These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by AIDS-related lymphoma or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:
The following tests and procedures may be used:
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
The process used to find out if cancercells have spread within the lymph system or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment, but AIDS-relatedlymphoma is usually advanced when it is diagnosed. The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:
Cancer can spread through tissue, the lymph system, and the blood:
AIDS-related lymphoma may be described as follows:
Stage I AIDS-related lymphoma is divided into stage I and stage IE.
Stage II AIDS-related lymphoma is divided into stage II and stage IIE.
Stage III AIDS-related lymphoma is divided into stage III, stage IIIE, stage IIIS, and stage IIIE+S.
In stage IV AIDS-related lymphoma, the cancer:
Patients who are infected with the Epstein-Barr virus or whose AIDS-related lymphoma affects the bone marrow have an increased risk of the cancer spreading to the central nervous system (CNS).
Lymphoma that starts in lymph nodes or other organs of the lymph system is called peripheral/systemic lymphoma. The lymphoma may spread throughout the body, including to the brain or bone marrow.
Primary CNS lymphoma starts in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Lymphoma that starts somewhere else in the body and spreads to the central nervous system is not primary CNS lymphoma.
Different types of treatment are available for patients with AIDS-relatedlymphoma. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
Patients with AIDS have weakened immune systems and treatment can cause further damage. For this reason, patients who have AIDS-related lymphoma are usually treated with lower doses of drugs than lymphoma patients who do not have AIDS.
Highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is used to slow progression of HIV (which is a retrovirus). Treatment with HAART may allow some patients to safely receive anticancer drugs in standard or higher doses. Medicine to prevent and treat infections, which can be serious, is also used.
AIDS-related lymphoma usually grows faster than lymphoma that is not AIDS-related and it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body. In general, AIDS-related lymphoma is harder to treat.
For more information about AIDS and its treatment, please see the AIDSinfo Web site.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (intrathecal chemotherapy), an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). Combination chemotherapy is treatment using more than one anticancer drug. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Intrathecal chemotherapy may be used in patients who are more likely to have lymphoma in the central nervous system (CNS).
Colony-stimulating factors are sometimes given together with chemotherapy. This helps lessen the side effects chemotherapy may have on the bone marrow.
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant is a way of giving high doses of chemotherapy and replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by the cancer treatment. Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored. After the chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body's blood cells.
Stem Cell Transplant
Stem cell transplant (Step 1). Blood is taken from a vein in the arm of the donor. The patient or another person may be the donor. The blood flows through a machine that removes the stem cells. Then the blood is returned to the donor through a vein in the other arm.
Stem cell transplant (Step 2). The patient receives chemotherapy to kill blood-forming cells. The patient may receive radiation therapy (not shown).
Stem cell transplant (Step 3). The patient receives stem cells through a catheter placed into a blood vessel in the chest.
This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Monoclonal antibodytherapy is one type of targeted therapy being studied in the treatment of AIDS-related lymphoma.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is a cancer treatment that uses antibodies made in the laboratory from a single type of immune system cell. These antibodies can identify substances on cancer cells or normal substances that may help cancer cells grow. The antibodies attach to the substances and kill the cancer cells, block their growth, or keep them from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion. These may be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells.
For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.
Many of today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.
Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.
Some clinical trials only include patients who have not yet received treatment. Other trials test treatments for patients whose cancer has not gotten better. There are also clinical trials that test new ways to stop cancer from recurring (coming back) or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.
Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. See the Treatment Options section that follows for links to current treatment clinical trials. These have been retrieved from NCI's listing of clinical trials.
Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests will be repeated in order to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based on the results of these tests. This is sometimes called re-staging.
Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your condition has changed or if the cancer has recurred (come back). These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups.
There is no standard treatment plan for AIDS-related peripheral/systemic lymphoma. Treatment is adjusted for each patient and is usually one or more of the following:
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with AIDS-related peripheral/systemic lymphoma. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials that may be right for you. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Treatment of AIDS-relatedprimary central nervous system lymphoma is usually radiation therapy.
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with AIDS-related primary CNS lymphoma. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials that may be right for you. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
For more information from the National Cancer Institute about AIDS-related lymphoma, see the following.
For general cancer information and other resources from the National Cancer Institute, see the following:
This information is provided by the National Cancer Institute.
This information was last updated on July 2, 2014.
The AIDS was first described in 1981, and the first definitions included certain opportunistic infections, Kaposi sarcoma, and central nervous system (CNS) lymphomas. In 1984, a multicenter study described the clinical spectrum of non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs) in the populations at risk for AIDS. In 1985 and 1987, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised the definition of AIDS to include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients who had aggressive B-cell NHL. The incidence of NHL has increased in an almost parallel course with the AIDS epidemic and accounts for 2% to 3% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases.
Pathologically, AIDS-related lymphomas are comprised of a narrow spectrum of histologic types consisting almost exclusively of B-cell tumors of aggressive type. These include the following:
The HIV-associated lymphomas can be categorized into the following:
Primary effusion lymphoma has been associated with Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpes-virus/human herpes virus type-8 (KSHV/HHV-8). Primary effusion lymphoma presents as a liquid phase spreading along serous membranes in the absence of masses or adenopathy. In addition to HHV-8, many cases are also associated with Epstein-Barr virus. Extension of lymphoma from the effusion to underlying tissue may occur. Plasmablastic multicentric Castleman disease is also associated with a coinfection of KSHV/HHV-8 and HIV. Patients typically present with fever, night sweats, weight loss, lymphadenopathy, and hepatosplenomegaly. Patients may progress to primary effusion lymphoma or to plasmablastic or anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Anecdotal responses to rituximab, an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody, have been reported.[Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]
An international database of 48,000 HIV-seropositive individuals from the United States, Europe, and Australia found a 42% decline in the incidence of NHLs from 1997 to 1999 compared with 1992 to 1996, both for PCNSL and for systemic lymphoma. The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is the proposed explanation for this decline. The diagnosis of AIDS precedes the onset of NHL in approximately 57% of the patients, but in 30% of the patients the diagnosis of AIDS is made at the time of the diagnosis of NHL and HIV positivity. The geographic distribution of these lymphomas is also similar to the geographic spread of AIDS. Unlike Kaposi sarcoma, which has a predilection for homosexual men and appears to be on the decline in incidence, all risk groups appear to have an excess number of NHLs; these risk groups include intravenous drug users and children of HIV-positive individuals.
In general, the clinical setting and response to treatment of patients with AIDS-related lymphoma is very different from that of the non-HIV patients with lymphoma. The HIV-infected individual with aggressive lymphoma usually presents with advanced-stage disease that is frequently extranodal.
Common extranodal sites include the following:
Very unusual sites are also characteristic and include the following:
The clinical course is more aggressive, and the disease is both more extensive and less responsive to chemotherapy. Immunodeficiency and cytopenias, common in these patients at the time of initial presentation, are exacerbated by the administration of chemotherapy. Treatment of the malignancy increases the risk of opportunistic infections that, in turn, further compromise the delivery of adequate treatment.
Prognoses of patients with AIDS-related lymphoma have been associated with the following:
Patients with AIDS-related PCNSL appear to have more severe underlying HIV-related disease than do patients with systemic lymphoma. In one report, this severity was evidenced by patients with PCNSL having a higher incidence of prior AIDS diagnoses (73% vs. 37%), lower median number of CD4 lymphocytes (30/dL vs. 189/dL), and a worse median survival time (2.5 months vs. 6.0 months). This report also showed that patients with poor risk factors—defined as Karnofsky performance status less than 70%, history of prior AIDS diagnosis, and bone marrow involvement—had a median survival time of 4.0 months compared with a good prognosis group without any of these risk factors, who had a median survival time of 11.3 months.
In another report (NIAID-ACTG-142), prognostic factors were evaluated in a group of 192 patients with newly diagnosed AIDS-related lymphoma who were randomly assigned to receive either low-dose methotrexate, bleomycin, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and dexamethasone (m-BACOD) or standard dose m-BACOD with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor. No differences existed between these two treatments in terms of efficacy for disease-free survival, median survival, or risk ratio for death.[Level of evidence: 1iiA] On multivariate analysis, factors associated with decreased survival included age older than 35 years, history of intravenous drug use, stage III or stage IV disease, and CD4 counts of less than 100 cells/mm3. The median survival rates were 46 weeks for patients with one or no risk factors, 44 weeks for patients with two risk factors, and 18 weeks for patients with three or more risk factors. The International Prognostic Index may also be predictive for survival. In a multicenter cohort study of 203 patients, in a multivariable Cox model, response to HAART was independently associated with prolonged survival (relative hazard = 0.32; 95% confidence interval, 0.16–0.62).[Level of evidence: 3iiiDii]
HIV-associated Hodgkin lymphoma
Multiple reviews of Hodgkin lymphoma occurring in patients at risk for AIDS have been done; however, Hodgkin lymphoma is still not part of the CDC definition of AIDS because of no clear demonstration of its increased incidence in conjunction with HIV, as is the case for aggressive NHL. The CDC, in conjunction with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, has reported a cohort study in which HIV-infected men had an excess risk that was attributable to the HIV infection of 19.3 cases of Hodgkin lymphoma per 100,000 person-years and 224.9 cases of NHL per 100,000 person-years. Although an excess incidence of Hodgkin lymphoma was found in HIV-infected homosexual men in this report, additional epidemiologic studies will be needed before the CDC will reconsider Hodgkin lymphoma as an HIV-associated malignancy.
HIV-associated Hodgkin lymphoma presents in an aggressive fashion, often with extranodal or bone marrow involvement. A distinctive feature of HIV-associated Hodgkin lymphoma is the lower frequency of mediastinal adenopathy compared with non-HIV-associated Hodgkin lymphoma. Most patients in these series had either mixed cellularity or lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma, expression of Epstein-Barr virus-associated proteins in Reed-Sternberg cells, B symptoms, and a median CD4 lymphocyte count of 300/dL or less. In a retrospective multicenter review of 62 patients, those receiving HAART with chemotherapy had a 74% 2-year overall survival (OS) versus a 30% OS for those not receiving HAART (P < .001).[Level of evidence: 3iiiA]
Note: Other PDQ summaries containing information about AIDS-related lymphoma include the following:
Ziegler JL, Beckstead JA, Volberding PA, et al.: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 90 homosexual men. Relation to generalized lymphadenopathy and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. N Engl J Med 311 (9): 565-70, 1984.
Rabkin CS, Yellin F: Cancer incidence in a population with a high prevalence of infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1. J Natl Cancer Inst 86 (22): 1711-6, 1994.
Simonelli C, Spina M, Cinelli R, et al.: Clinical features and outcome of primary effusion lymphoma in HIV-infected patients: a single-institution study. J Clin Oncol 21 (21): 3948-54, 2003.
Nador RG, Cesarman E, Chadburn A, et al.: Primary effusion lymphoma: a distinct clinicopathologic entity associated with the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus. Blood 88 (2): 645-56, 1996.
Goedert JJ: Multicentric Castleman disease: viral and cellular targets for intervention. Blood 102 (8): 2710-11, 2003.
Marcelin AG, Aaron L, Mateus C, et al.: Rituximab therapy for HIV-associated Castleman disease. Blood 102 (8): 2786-8, 2003.
International Collaboration on HIV and Cancer: Highly active antiretroviral therapy and incidence of cancer in human immunodeficiency virus-infected adults. J Natl Cancer Inst 92 (22): 1823-30, 2000.
Stebbing J, Gazzard B, Mandalia S, et al.: Antiretroviral treatment regimens and immune parameters in the prevention of systemic AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 22 (11): 2177-83, 2004.
Knowles DM, Chamulak GA, Subar M, et al.: Lymphoid neoplasia associated with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The New York University Medical Center experience with 105 patients (1981-1986). Ann Intern Med 108 (5): 744-53, 1988.
Sparano JA: Clinical aspects and management of AIDS-related lymphoma. Eur J Cancer 37 (10): 1296-305, 2001.
Bower M, Gazzard B, Mandalia S, et al.: A prognostic index for systemic AIDS-related non-Hodgkin lymphoma treated in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy. Ann Intern Med 143 (4): 265-73, 2005.
Levine AM, Sullivan-Halley J, Pike MC, et al.: Human immunodeficiency virus-related lymphoma. Prognostic factors predictive of survival. Cancer 68 (11): 2466-72, 1991.
Kaplan LD, Straus DJ, Testa MA, et al.: Low-dose compared with standard-dose m-BACOD chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma associated with human immunodeficiency virus infection. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases AIDS Clinical Trials Group. N Engl J Med 336 (23): 1641-8, 1997.
Navarro JT, Ribera JM, Oriol A, et al.: International prognostic index is the best prognostic factor for survival in patients with AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treated with CHOP. A multivariate study of 46 patients. Haematologica 83 (6): 508-13, 1998.
Rossi G, Donisi A, Casari S, et al.: The International Prognostic Index can be used as a guide to treatment decisions regarding patients with human immunodeficiency virus-related systemic non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer 86 (11): 2391-7, 1999.
Straus DJ, Huang J, Testa MA, et al.: Prognostic factors in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus-associated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: analysis of AIDS Clinical Trials Group protocol 142--low-dose versus standard-dose m-BACOD plus granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. J Clin Oncol 16 (11): 3601-6, 1998.
Hoffmann C, Wolf E, Fätkenheuer G, et al.: Response to highly active antiretroviral therapy strongly predicts outcome in patients with AIDS-related lymphoma. AIDS 17 (10): 1521-9, 2003.
Spina M, Vaccher E, Nasti G, et al.: Human immunodeficiency virus-associated Hodgkin's disease. Semin Oncol 27 (4): 480-8, 2000.
Thompson LD, Fisher SI, Chu WS, et al.: HIV-associated Hodgkin lymphoma: a clinicopathologic and immunophenotypic study of 45 cases. Am J Clin Pathol 121 (5): 727-38, 2004.
Hessol NA, Katz MH, Liu JY, et al.: Increased incidence of Hodgkin disease in homosexual men with HIV infection. Ann Intern Med 117 (4): 309-11, 1992.
Re A, Casari S, Cattaneo C, et al.: Hodgkin disease developing in patients infected by human immunodeficiency virus results in clinical features and a prognosis similar to those in patients with human immunodeficiency virus-related non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer 92 (11): 2739-45, 2001.
Dolcetti R, Boiocchi M, Gloghini A, et al.: Pathogenetic and histogenetic features of HIV-associated Hodgkin's disease. Eur J Cancer 37 (10): 1276-87, 2001.
Hentrich M, Maretta L, Chow KU, et al.: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) improves survival in HIV-associated Hodgkin's disease: results of a multicenter study. Ann Oncol 17 (6): 914-9, 2006.
All three pathologic types are equally distributed and represent aggressive disease.
AIDS-related lymphomas, though usually of B-cell origin as demonstrated by immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene rearrangement studies, have also been shown to be oligoclonal and polyclonal as well as monoclonal in origin. Although human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) does not appear to have a direct etiologic role, HIV infection does lead to an altered immunologic milieu. HIV generally infects T lymphocytes whose loss of regulation function leads to hypergammaglobulinemia and polyclonal B-cell hyperplasia. B cells are not the targets of HIV infection. Instead, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is thought to be at least a cofactor in the etiology of some of these lymphomas. The EBV genome has been detected in varying numbers of patients with AIDS-related lymphomas; molecular analysis suggests that the cells were infected before clonal proliferation began. EBV is detected in 30% of patients with small, noncleaved lymphomas and in 80% of patients with diffuse, large cell lymphomas. The rare, primary effusion lymphoma consistently harbors human herpes virus type-8 and frequently contains EBV. HIV-related T-cell lymphomas have also been identified and appear to be associated with EBV infection.
Thorley-Lawson DA, Gross A: Persistence of the Epstein-Barr virus and the origins of associated lymphomas. N Engl J Med 350 (13): 1328-37, 2004.
Thomas JA, Cotter F, Hanby AM, et al.: Epstein-Barr virus-related oral T-cell lymphoma associated with human immunodeficiency virus immunosuppression. Blood 81 (12): 3350-6, 1993.
Although stage is important in selecting the treatment of patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) who do not have AIDS, the majority of patients with AIDS-related lymphomas have far-advanced disease.
Involvement of a single lymphatic site (i.e., nodal region, Waldeyer ring, thymus or spleen) (I).
Localized involvement of a single extralymphatic organ or site in the absence of any lymph node involvement (IE) (rare in Hodgkin lymphoma).
Involvement of two or more lymph node regions on the same side of the diaphragm (II).
Localized involvement of a single extralymphatic organ or site in association with regional lymph node involvement with or without involvement of other lymph node regions on the same side of the diaphragm (IIE). The number of regions involved may be indicated by a subscript Arabic numeral, for example, II3
Involvement of lymph node regions on both sides of the diaphragm (III), which also may be accompanied by extralymphatic extension in association with adjacent lymph node involvement (IIIE) or by involvement of the spleen (IIIS) or both (IIIE, IIIS). Splenic involvement is designated by the letter S.
Diffuse or disseminated involvement of one or more extralymphatic organs, with or without associated lymph node involvement.
Isolated extralymphatic organ involvement in the absence of adjacent regional lymph node involvement, but in conjunction with disease in distant site(s). Stage IV includes any involvement of the liver or bone marrow, lungs (other than by direct extension from another site), or cerebrospinal fluid.
aReprinted with permission from AJCC: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. In Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 607–11.
The Ann Arbor staging system is commonly used for patients with NHL. In this system, stage I, II, III, and IV NHL can be subclassified into A and B categories: B for those with well-defined generalized symptoms and A for those without. The B designation is given to patients with any of the following symptoms:
Occasionally, specialized staging systems are used. The physician should be aware of the system used in a specific report.
The E designation is used when extranodal lymphoid malignancies arise in tissues separate from, but near, the major lymphatic aggregates. Stage IV refers to disease that is diffusely spread throughout an extranodal site, such as the liver. If pathologic proof of involvement of one or more extralymphatic sites has been documented, the symbol for the site of involvement, followed by a plus sign (+), is listed.
N = nodes
H = liver
L = lung
M = marrow
S = spleen
P = pleura
O = bone
D = skin
Current practice assigns a clinical stage (CS) based on the findings of the clinical evaluation and a pathologic stage (PS) based on the findings made as a result of invasive procedures beyond the initial biopsy.
For example, on percutaneous biopsy, a patient with inguinal adenopathy and a positive lymphangiogram without systemic symptoms might be found to have involvement of the liver and bone marrow. The precise stage of such a patient would be CS IIA, PS IVA(H+)(M+).
A number of other factors that are not included in the above staging system are important for the staging and prognosis of patients with NHL. These factors include the following:
To identify subgroups of patients most likely to relapse, an international prognostic index was compiled for 2,031 patients with aggressive NHL. After validation by several cancer centers (NCT00003150), the major cooperative groups used this index in the design of new clinical trials. The model has been simple to apply, reproducible, and has predicted outcome even after patients have achieved a complete remission. The model has identified five significant risk factors prognostic of overall survival (OS): age (<60 years vs. >60 years), serum LDH (normal vs. elevated), performance status (0 or 1 vs. 2–4), stage (stage I or stage II vs. stage III or stage IV), and extranodal site involvement (0 or 1 vs. 2–4).
Patients with two or more risk factors were shown to have a less than 50% chance of relapse-free and OS at 5 years. This study also identified patients at high risk of relapse based on specific sites of involvement, including bone marrow, central nervous system, liver, lung, and spleen. Patients at high risk of relapse may benefit from consolidation therapy or other approaches under clinical evaluation. Molecular profiles of gene expression using DNA microarrays may help to stratify patients in the future for therapies directed at specific targets and to better predict survival after standard chemotherapy.
Lymphoid neoplasms. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 599-628.
National Cancer Institute sponsored study of classifications of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas: summary and description of a working formulation for clinical usage. The Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Pathologic Classification Project. Cancer 49 (10): 2112-35, 1982.
A predictive model for aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The International Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Prognostic Factors Project. N Engl J Med 329 (14): 987-94, 1993.
Salles G, de Jong D, Xie W, et al.: Prognostic significance of immunohistochemical biomarkers in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: a study from the Lunenburg Lymphoma Biomarker Consortium. Blood 117 (26): 7070-8, 2011.
Advani RH, Chen H, Habermann TM, et al.: Comparison of conventional prognostic indices in patients older than 60 years with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma treated with R-CHOP in the US Intergroup Study (ECOG 4494, CALGB 9793): consideration of age greater than 70 years in an elderly prognostic index (E-IPI). Br J Haematol 151 (2): 143-51, 2010.
Rosenwald A, Wright G, Chan WC, et al.: The use of molecular profiling to predict survival after chemotherapy for diffuse large-B-cell lymphoma. N Engl J Med 346 (25): 1937-47, 2002.
Abramson JS, Shipp MA: Advances in the biology and therapy of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: moving toward a molecularly targeted approach. Blood 106 (4): 1164-74, 2005.
The treatment of patients with AIDS-related lymphomas presents the challenge of integrating therapy appropriate for the stage and histologic subset of malignant lymphoma with the limitations imposed by HIV infection, which to date is a chronic incurable illness. In addition to antitumor therapy, essential components of an optimal non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment strategy include the following:
Patients with HIV positivity and underlying immunodeficiency have poor bone marrow reserve, which compromises the potential for drug dose intensity. Intercurrent opportunistic infection is a risk that may also lead to a decrease in drug delivery. Furthermore, chemotherapy itself compromises the immune system and increases the likelihood of opportunistic infection.
Levine AM: Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related lymphoma: clinical aspects. Semin Oncol 27 (4): 442-53, 2000.
Tirelli U, Bernardi D: Impact of HAART on the clinical management of AIDS-related cancers. Eur J Cancer 37 (10): 1320-4, 2001.
The treatment of AIDS-related lymphomas involves overcoming several problems. These are all aggressive lymphomas, which by definition are diffuse large cell/immunoblastic lymphoma or small noncleaved cell lymphoma. These lymphomas frequently involve the bone marrow and central nervous system (CNS) and, therefore, are usually in an advanced stage. In addition, the immunodeficiency of AIDS and the leukopenia that is commonly seen with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection makes the use of immunosuppressive chemotherapy difficult.
A large number of retrospective studies and several prospective studies have been reported using regimens such as cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (CHOP), methotrexate, bleomycin, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and dexamethasone (m-BACOD), and infusional cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and etoposide. The patients who go into remission are more likely to have less disease, no bone marrow or CNS involvement, no prior AIDS-defining illness, and a better performance status. Patients at risk for subsequent CNS involvement include those with bone marrow involvement or those with Epstein-Barr virus identified in the primary tumor or in the cerebrospinal fluid (i.e., by polymerase chain reaction). Intrathecal chemotherapy is usually considered for those patients at higher risk for CNS involvement.
Prior to the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era, a randomized trial of patients with HIV and either Burkitt lymphoma (BL) or diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) compared standard dose chemotherapy and growth factor support with reduced-dose chemotherapy. No difference was found in overall survival (OS) between the two dose levels, and no difference was observed between the historic groups (BL and DLBCL); however, the median survival was equally poor at 6 to 7 months.[Level of evidence: 1iiA] The introduction of HAART has led to a marked reduction in opportunistic infections, prolonged survival with HIV infection, and a median OS for patients with AIDS-related lymphoma, which is comparable to the outcome in the nonimmunosuppressed population.[Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] The use of HAART has also allowed the use of standard dose and even intensive chemotherapy regimens to be given with reasonable safety to patients with AIDS-related lymphomas, which is comparable to the outcome in non-HIV patients.
In a retrospective review of 363 patients with HIV-associated lymphoma, survival of patients with HIV-DLBCL improved in the HAART era, but survival of similarly treated patients with HIV-BL remained poor.[Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] Future studies will evaluate if more intensive chemotherapy appropriate for non-HIV patients with BL results in better outcomes for patients with HIV-BL. A prospective randomized comparison (AMC-010) of rituximab plus CHOP (R-CHOP) versus CHOP in 150 patients with HIV-DLBCL and HIV-BL showed no difference in (OS); treatment-related infectious deaths occurred in 14% of patients who received R-CHOP versus 2% of patients who received CHOP alone (P = .035).[Level of evidence: 1iiA] A Cochrane meta-analysis published in 2009 evaluated 857 patients in four randomized clinical trials; no clinical conclusions regarding the optimal regimen could be reached as a result of varying interventions and the lack of adequately powered trials with a low risk of bias.
Highly selected patients with resistant or relapsed lymphoma after first-line chemotherapy and with continued responsiveness to HAART underwent second-line chemotherapy followed by high-dose therapy and autologous peripheral stem cell transplantation. Long-term survivors have been reported anecdotally for these highly selected patients who relapsed.[Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with AIDS-related peripheral/systemic lymphoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
Sparano JA, Lee S, Chen MG, et al.: Phase II trial of infusional cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and etoposide in patients with HIV-associated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Trial (E1494). J Clin Oncol 22 (8): 1491-500, 2004.
Ratner L, Lee J, Tang S, et al.: Chemotherapy for human immunodeficiency virus-associated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in combination with highly active antiretroviral therapy. J Clin Oncol 19 (8): 2171-8, 2001.
Levine AM, Tulpule A, Espina B, et al.: Liposome-encapsulated doxorubicin in combination with standard agents (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone) in patients with newly diagnosed AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: results of therapy and correlates of response. J Clin Oncol 22 (13): 2662-70, 2004.
Gill PS, Levine AM, Krailo M, et al.: AIDS-related malignant lymphoma: results of prospective treatment trials. J Clin Oncol 5 (9): 1322-8, 1987.
Cingolani A, Gastaldi R, Fassone L, et al.: Epstein-Barr virus infection is predictive of CNS involvement in systemic AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. J Clin Oncol 18 (19): 3325-30, 2000.
Scadden DT: Epstein-Barr virus, the CNS, and AIDS-related lymphomas: as close as flame to smoke. J Clin Oncol 18 (19): 3323-4, 2000.
Palella FJ Jr, Delaney KM, Moorman AC, et al.: Declining morbidity and mortality among patients with advanced human immunodeficiency virus infection. HIV Outpatient Study Investigators. N Engl J Med 338 (13): 853-60, 1998.
Antinori A, Cingolani A, Alba L, et al.: Better response to chemotherapy and prolonged survival in AIDS-related lymphomas responding to highly active antiretroviral therapy. AIDS 15 (12): 1483-91, 2001.
Tam HK, Zhang ZF, Jacobson LP, et al.: Effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy on survival among HIV-infected men with Kaposi sarcoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Int J Cancer 98 (6): 916-22, 2002.
Vaccher E, Spina M, Talamini R, et al.: Improvement of systemic human immunodeficiency virus-related non-Hodgkin lymphoma outcome in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy. Clin Infect Dis 37 (11): 1556-64, 2003.
Mounier N, Spina M, Gabarre J, et al.: AIDS-related non-Hodgkin lymphoma: final analysis of 485 patients treated with risk-adapted intensive chemotherapy. Blood 107 (10): 3832-40, 2006.
Weiss R, Mitrou P, Arasteh K, et al.: Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related lymphoma: simultaneous treatment with combined cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone chemotherapy and highly active antiretroviral therapy is safe and improves survival--results of the German Multicenter Trial. Cancer 106 (7): 1560-8, 2006.
Wang ES, Straus DJ, Teruya-Feldstein J, et al.: Intensive chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, high-dose methotrexate/ifosfamide, etoposide, and high-dose cytarabine (CODOX-M/IVAC) for human immunodeficiency virus-associated Burkitt lymphoma. Cancer 98 (6): 1196-205, 2003.
Cortes J, Thomas D, Rios A, et al.: Hyperfractionated cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin, and dexamethasone and highly active antiretroviral therapy for patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related Burkitt lymphoma/leukemia. Cancer 94 (5): 1492-9, 2002.
Lim ST, Karim R, Nathwani BN, et al.: AIDS-related Burkitt's lymphoma versus diffuse large-cell lymphoma in the pre-highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and HAART eras: significant differences in survival with standard chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 23 (19): 4430-8, 2005.
Kaplan LD, Lee JY, Ambinder RF, et al.: Rituximab does not improve clinical outcome in a randomized phase 3 trial of CHOP with or without rituximab in patients with HIV-associated non-Hodgkin lymphoma: AIDS-Malignancies Consortium Trial 010. Blood 106 (5): 1538-43, 2005.
Martí-Carvajal AJ, Cardona AF, Lawrence A: Interventions for previously untreated patients with AIDS-associated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (3): CD005419, 2009.
Re A, Michieli M, Casari S, et al.: High-dose therapy and autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation as salvage treatment for AIDS-related lymphoma: long-term results of the Italian Cooperative Group on AIDS and Tumors (GICAT) study with analysis of prognostic factors. Blood 114 (7): 1306-13, 2009.
Krishnan A, Molina A, Zaia J, et al.: Durable remissions with autologous stem cell transplantation for high-risk HIV-associated lymphomas. Blood 105 (2): 874-8, 2005.
Costello RT, Zerazhi H, Charbonnier A, et al.: Intensive sequential chemotherapy with hematopoietic growth factor support for non-Hodgkin lymphoma in patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus. Cancer 100 (4): 667-76, 2004.
Balsalobre P, Díez-Martín JL, Re A, et al.: Autologous stem-cell transplantation in patients with HIV-related lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 27 (13): 2192-8, 2009.
Until the 1980s, primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) was a rare disease. PCNSL has increased dramatically in association with AIDS. PCNSL accounts for approximately 0.6% of initial AIDS diagnoses and is the second most frequent central nervous system (CNS) mass lesion in adults with AIDS. As with other AIDS-related lymphomas, these are usually aggressive B-cell neoplasms, either diffuse large cell or diffuse immunoblastic non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Unlike AIDS-related systemic lymphomas, in which 30% to 50% of tumors are associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), AIDS-related PCNSL has been reported to have a 100% association with EBV. This percentage indicates a pathogenetic role for EBV in this disease. These patients usually have evidence of far-advanced AIDS, are severely debilitated, and present with focal neurologic symptoms such as seizures, changes in mental status, and paralysis.
Computed tomographic scans show contrast-enhancing mass lesions that may not always be distinguished from other CNS diseases, such as toxoplasmosis, that occur in AIDS patients. Magnetic resonance imaging studies using gadolinium contrast may be a more useful initial diagnostic tool in differentiating lymphoma from cerebral toxoplasmosis or progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Lymphoma tends to present with large lesions, which are enhanced by gadolinium. In cerebral toxoplasmosis, ring enhancement is very common, lesions tend to be smaller, and multiple lesions are seen. Use of positron emission scanning has demonstrated an improved ability to distinguish PCNSL from toxoplasmosis.
PSNCL has an increased uptake while toxoplasmosis lesions are metabolically inactive. Antibodies against toxoplasmosis may also be very useful because the vast majority of cerebral toxoplasmosis occur as a consequence of reactivity of a previous infection. If the IgG titer is less than 1:4, the disease is unlikely to be toxoplasmotic. A lumbar puncture may be useful to detect as many as 23% of patients with malignant cells in their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Evaluating the CSF for EBV DNA may be a useful lymphoma-specific tool since EBV is present in all patients with PCNSL. Despite all of these evaluations, however, the majority of patients with PCNSL require a pathologic diagnosis. Diagnosis is made by biopsy. Sometimes, a biopsy is attempted only after failure of antibiotics for toxoplasmosis, which will produce clinical and radiographic improvement within 1 to 3 weeks in patients with cerebral toxoplasmosis. PCNSL is often identified as a terminal manifestation of AIDS or on postmortem examination.
Radiation therapy alone has usually been used in this group of patients. With doses in the 35 Gy to 40 Gy range, median duration of survival has been only 72 to 119 days. Survival is longer in younger patients with better performance status and the absence of opportunistic infection. Most patients respond to treatment by showing partial improvement in neurologic symptoms. Autopsies have revealed that these patients die of opportunistic infections as well as tumor progression. Treatment of these patients is also complicated by other AIDS-related CNS infections, including subacute AIDS encephalitis, cytomegalovirus encephalitis, and toxoplasmosis encephalitis. Spontaneous remissions have been reported after highly active antiretroviral therapy.
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with AIDS-related primary CNS lymphoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
MacMahon EM, Glass JD, Hayward SD, et al.: Epstein-Barr virus in AIDS-related primary central nervous system lymphoma. Lancet 338 (8773): 969-73, 1991.
Goldstein JD, Dickson DW, Moser FG, et al.: Primary central nervous system lymphoma in acquired immune deficiency syndrome. A clinical and pathologic study with results of treatment with radiation. Cancer 67 (11): 2756-65, 1991.
Nyberg DA, Federle MP: AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma and lymphomas. Semin Roentgenol 22 (1): 54-65, 1987.
Fine HA, Mayer RJ: Primary central nervous system lymphoma. Ann Intern Med 119 (11): 1093-104, 1993.
Ciricillo SF, Rosenblum ML: Use of CT and MR imaging to distinguish intracranial lesions and to define the need for biopsy in AIDS patients. J Neurosurg 73 (5): 720-4, 1990.
Hoffman JM, Waskin HA, Schifter T, et al.: FDG-PET in differentiating lymphoma from nonmalignant central nervous system lesions in patients with AIDS. J Nucl Med 34 (4): 567-75, 1993.
Pierce MA, Johnson MD, Maciunas RJ, et al.: Evaluating contrast-enhancing brain lesions in patients with AIDS by using positron emission tomography. Ann Intern Med 123 (8): 594-8, 1995.
Cinque P, Brytting M, Vago L, et al.: Epstein-Barr virus DNA in cerebrospinal fluid from patients with AIDS-related primary lymphoma of the central nervous system. Lancet 342 (8868): 398-401, 1993.
Cingolani A, De Luca A, Larocca LM, et al.: Minimally invasive diagnosis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related primary central nervous system lymphoma. J Natl Cancer Inst 90 (5): 364-9, 1998.
Yarchoan R, Jaffe ES, Little R: Diagnosing central nervous system lymphoma in the setting of AIDS: a step forward. J Natl Cancer Inst 90 (5): 346-7, 1998.
Mathews C, Barba D, Fullerton SC: Early biopsy versus empiric treatment with delayed biopsy of non-responders in suspected HIV-associated cerebral toxoplasmosis: a decision analysis. AIDS 9 (11): 1243-50, 1995.
Baumgartner JE, Rachlin JR, Beckstead JH, et al.: Primary central nervous system lymphomas: natural history and response to radiation therapy in 55 patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. J Neurosurg 73 (2): 206-11, 1990.
Remick SC, Diamond C, Migliozzi JA, et al.: Primary central nervous system lymphoma in patients with and without the acquired immune deficiency syndrome. A retrospective analysis and review of the literature. Medicine (Baltimore) 69 (6): 345-60, 1990.
Corn BW, Donahue BR, Rosenstock JG, et al.: Performance status and age as independent predictors of survival among AIDS patients with primary CNS lymphoma: a multivariate analysis of a multi-institutional experience. Cancer J Sci Am 3 (1): 52-6, 1997 Jan-Feb.
McGowan JP, Shah S: Long-term remission of AIDS-related primary central nervous system lymphoma associated with highly active antiretroviral therapy. AIDS 12 (8): 952-4, 1998.
This information was last updated on April 11, 2014.
Our licensed social workers are here to help adult patients and their loved ones face the many new concerns and anxieties following a cancer diagnosis, offering emotional support and assistance with obtaining needed resources.
If you are dealing with the death of a loved one, grief can be a lonely and isolating experience. The Bereavement Program provides support to bereaved family members and friends following the death of a patient.
Concierge Services is your one-stop place to learn about Dana-Farber programs, services and resources, as well as information on getting around Boston, finding lodging or restaurants, and activities in the area.
The Expressive Arts Therapy program, sponsored by the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, provides adult patients, family members, and caregivers with a variety of options to support well-being during cancer treatment. From live music meditation to painting technique workshops, the program offers a range of creative outlets to suit every interest.
Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women's Hospital, including parking facilities, are fully accessible to people with disabilities. There are wheelchairs at the main entrance, and security staff can provide personal assistance. We also have many educational materials available in large print and audiotape formats.
The Ethics Consultation Service is available for patients and families who may be facing difficult decisions and choices regarding care. Our goal is to bring together patients, families and health care providers to talk about ethical concerns and help everyone involved arrive at a resolution that is right for all.
This comprehensive resource offers guidance, information and resources to support the entire family, including how to talk to children about cancer, advice for the well partner, and creating a support network.
Find practical tips and suggestions for individuals caring for a family member or friend with cancer, including creating a caregiving plan, finding community resources, and looking after your own well-being.
Friends' Place provides personal consultations to help cancer patients of all ages cope with changes in physical appearance that result from cancer treatment. Our experienced, compassionate team provides fittings for compression garments or breast prostheses, helps with wigs and other head coverings, and offers make-up and skincare advice.
The Friends' Corner Gift Shop, located on the first floor of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, offers a wide selection of unique gifts and everyday items for patients, families and staff.
Dana-Farber offers several services to help you and your family manage the financial side of cancer treatment. From creating bill payment schedules and estate planning advice to debt management and resource assistance for patients in need, our team is here for you.
Every year, thousands of patients with cancer from around the world come to Dana-Farber for their care. We provide a wide array of logistical and other services for individuals who live outside the United States.
Dana-Farber provides interpreting services for patients whose first language is not English. Interpreters may be requested for any activity, including registration, booking appointments, attending treatments and exams, support groups, and meetings with doctors and other members of your health care team.
Our nutritionists are registered dietitians who can assist you in planning an optimal diet during any stage of your cancer journey, cope with any side effects you may experience, and answer your questions about the latest findings on cancer and nutrition.
One-to-One connects adult patients, family members and caregivers with individuals who have gone through cancer themselves, providing an experienced and reassuring perspective for those facing a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
The Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Patient and Family Resource Center and its satellite resource rooms are staffed by health care professionals and provide computer stations, books, brochures, videos, and CDs to help you find information and support on a variety of issues about cancer treatment and care.
Patients websites help friends and family members stay up-to-date on their loved ones' condition and write messages of support and encouragement.
The Dana-Farber pharmacy fills prescriptions for all pediatric and adult patients. Our pharmacists are an extension of the patient care team and work closely with your physicians to provide seamless, convenient, safe care.
More than 1,200 Dana-Farber patients and their families have enjoyed free trips to baseball games, theater shows, museums, and other attractions this year through the Recreational Resources program.
The Sexual Health Program provides education, consultation and personalized rehabilitation for patients and their partners who have experienced changes in sexual health during and after cancer treatment.
Through all stages of cancer treatment and survivorship, our Spiritual Care staff is available 24 hours a day to provide emotional and spiritual support for adults and pediatric patients and family members.
Young adults with cancer face very different challenges than patients who were diagnosed earlier in childhood or later in adulthood. The Young Adult Program can help you to find the resources and expertise available at Dana-Farber to help support your cancer experience.
Integrative therapies, also known as complementary therapies, range from acupuncture and massage to nutritional guidance and music therapy. Patients treated at the Zakim Center credit its services with easing nausea, improving circulation, and reducing pain, stress, and anxiety associated with cancer treatment.