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Clin Lymphoma. 2001 Mar;1(4):263-75; discussion 276-7.

Advances in the therapy of primary central nervous system lymphoma.

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  • 1Neurology Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) is a rare type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) confined to the nervous system. The management of PCNSL is quite different from the usual treatment of either primary brain tumors or systemic NHL. First-generation chemotherapy regimens used successfully in systemic NHL are ineffective in PCNSL, in large part due to the existence of the blood-brain barrier. Whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) results in high response rates but rapid relapse, and this treatment is associated with delayed neurotoxicity in patients with PCNSL. The addition of methotrexate-based chemotherapy has improved survival and lessened toxicity for this patient population. Fundamental issues that remain unresolved in PCNSL include identification of the optimal chemotherapy regimen for newly diagnosed and relapsed PCNSL, the role of WBRT and intrathecal chemotherapy in the treatment of PCNSL, and the optimal management of intraocular lymphoma. Finally, the optimal clinical study design for this rare disease has yet to be defined and implemented.

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