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Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2004 Aug;5(4):289-303.

Treatment of T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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  • 1Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Medical School and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) represents approximately 10% to 15% of all lymphomas in Western countries. Patients with T-cell NHL are often treated similarly to patients with intermediate grade B-cell NHL, although many reports have demonstrated lower overall survival rates in patients with T-cell NHL compared to patients with B-cell NHL. Updated classifications have recognized specific clinical and pathologic T-cell entities, such as peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise characterized, angioimmunoblastic lymphoma, systemic anaplastic T-cell lymphoma, adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma, hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma, extranodal natural killer (NK)/T-cell lymphoma nasal type, and enteropathy-type intestinal T-cell lymphoma. Furthermore, these distinct T-cell NHL subtypes often warrant individualized diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, such as the associated cytophagic histiocytic panniculitis and hemophagocytic syndrome with subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma, the chromosomal translocation t(2;5), leading to the nucleophosmin anaplastic lymphoma kinase fusion protein, viral pathogenesis of Epstein-Barr virus, human T-cell lymphotropic virus type-1 associated with extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma nasal type and adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, respectively, and the role of radiation therapy in extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma nasal type. Other active therapeutic agents in T-cell NHL include purine and pyrimidine antimetabolite agents (eg, nucleoside analogues and gemcitabine, respectively), denileukin diftitox, and antinucleoside or retinoic acid with interferon-alpha combination treatment. The exact role of transplantation in patients with T-cell NHL is unknown, but several case series have documented the feasibility of autologous and allogeneic transplant with reported long-term survival rates similar to transplanted B-cell NHL. Identification of relevant proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes involved in the pathogenesis of T-cell NHL, such as the nucleophosmin anaplastic lymphoma kinase fusion protein, p53 and retinoblastoma gene, cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, histone deacetylation inhibitors, and infectious etiologies (eg, Epstein-Barr virus and Helicobacter pylori), in addition to their interplay with the various regulatory pathways of cell-cycle progression and apoptosis, represent potential candidates for molecular-based therapy. Prospective multi-institution clinical trials are critically important to determine the most effective treatment regimens that will continue to improve cure rates in these aggressive, yet treatable and often curable, diseases.

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