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Mod Pathol. 2009 Sep;22(9):1210-7. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2009.87. Epub 2009 Jun 12.

Most primary adrenal lymphomas are diffuse large B-cell lymphomas with non-germinal center B-cell phenotype, BCL6 gene rearrangement and poor prognosis.

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  • 1Department of Anatomic Pathology, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


Primary adrenal lymphoma is extremely rare, accounting for <1% of non-Hodgkin lymphomas, and lymphoma-associated chromosomal translocations have yet to be reported in this entity. We performed a retrospective study of 10 cases in immunocompetent patients including 4 males and 6 females with a median age of 68 years. The most common presenting symptoms were abdominal pain and fever; unexpectedly, clinically evident adrenal insufficiency was detected only in one patient. The mean tumor size at diagnosis was 8.5 cm. Half of the patients had bilateral involvement. All cases presented with stage IE disease without regional nodal involvement. Histologically, eight cases were diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, all of which carried a non-germinal center B-cell phenotype. Fluorescence in situ hybridization revealed BCL6 gene rearrangement in 5 (83%) of 6 diffuse large B-cell lymphomas investigated. The remaining cases were one case each of plasmablastic lymphoma and extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma, nasal type, the first and third case of primary adrenal lymphoma of these particular lymphoma subtypes in the English literature, respectively. At a median follow-up of 4.5 months, 7 patients died of lymphoma, 1 died of an unrelated disease, 1 was alive with disease, and 1 was alive without disease. The prognosis of these patients was poor as compared with those with nodal diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. We speculate that the poor outcome of primary adrenal lymphoma might be related to the bulky tumor size at presentation, non-germinal center B-cell phenotype, and frequent BCL-6 gene rearrangement.

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