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Arch Neurol. 2010 Mar;67(3):291-7. doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2010.3.

Primary central nervous system lymphoma.

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  • 1Division of Hematology and Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma (PCNSL), an uncommon variant of extranodal non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), can affect any part of the neuraxis including the eyes, brain, leptomeninges, or spinal cord. It accounts for approximately 3% of all the primary CNS tumors diagnosed each year in the United States. Congenital or acquired immunodeficiency is the only established risk factor for PCNSL, and individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are at greater risk for developing this tumor. Infection with HIV likely accounted for the increased incidence in PCNSL observed from 1970 to 2000, but over the last decade the number of cases of PCNSL has stabilized or decreased to about 0.47 cases per 100 000 persons. Owing to the rarity of PCNSL, the disease has been challenging to study and an effective standard of care has been difficult to establish. Unfortunately, although durable remissions may be achieved for some patients with PCNSL, the tumor relapses in most cases. In this review, we will focus on PCNSL in the immunocompetent host.

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