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Pathol Int. 2009 May;59(5):345-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1827.2009.02376.x.

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma in leukemic phase: extraordinarily high white blood cell count.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas, USA.


Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a distinct type of T/null-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that commonly involves nodal and extranodal sites. The World Health Organization of lymphoid neoplasms recognizes two types: anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) positive or ALK negative, the former as a result of abnormalities involving the ALK gene at chromosome 2p23. Patients with ALCL rarely develop a leukemic phase of disease, either at the time of initial presentation or during the clinical course. Described herein is a patient with ALK+ ALCL, small cell variant, associated with the t(2;5)(p23;q35), who initially presented with leukemic involvement and an extraordinarily high leukocyte count of 529 x 10(9)/L, which subsequently peaked at 587 x 10(9)/L. Despite chemotherapy the patient died 2(1/2) months after diagnosis. In the literature review 20 well-documented cases are identified of ALCL in leukemic phase reported previously, with a WBC ranging from 15 to 151 x 10(9)/L. Leukemic phase of ALCL occurs almost exclusively in patients with ALK+ ALCL, most often associated with the small cell variant and the t(2;5)(p23;q35), similar to the present case. Patients with leukemic phase ALK+ ALCL appear to have a poorer prognosis than most patients with ALK+ ALCL.

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