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Hum Pathol. 1991 Jul;22(7):659-73.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-associated lymphomas: clinical, pathologic, immunologic, and viral characteristics of 111 cases.

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Department of Pathology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY 10021.


The incidence of lymphomas in individuals infected with the human immunodeficiency virus has increased progressively since the beginning of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. The present series includes 111 patients, all diagnosed and studied at one hospital in New York City. There were 108 men and three women; the average age was 39 years and male homosexuality was the predominant risk factor. The materials examined originated from 138 surgical specimens and 24 autopsies. There were 11 cases of Hodgkin's lymphoma and 100 cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL), a proportion strongly skewed in favor of the latter. Hodgkin's lymphoma in AIDS patients was characterized by advanced clinical stage, high histologic grade, and frequent bone marrow involvement. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in AIDS patients, in contrast to the general population, originated predominantly in extranodal locations (61 cases) versus locations in which the lymph nodes were the site of the primary tumors (39 cases). In the digestive tract, the unusual oral and anal primary locations were often noted and were possibly related to specific risk factors. There were 15 cases of NHL of the central nervous system, an incidence 14 times greater than that recorded in the general population. The majority of NHLs were of high histologic grade, Burkitt's and large cell immunoblastic, representing most of the cerebral and gastrointestinal tumors. All NHLs were of B-cell immunophenotype. Lymphadenopathies with the histologic features of human immunodeficiency virus infection, particularly of the late stage (type C), often preceded NHL. Probing for Epstein-Barr virus genome was more frequently positive in Hodgkin's lymphoma than in NHL. Immunologic evaluations showed severely depressed T cell counts and CD4 to CD8 cell ratios as well as markedly increased levels of antilymphocyte antibodies. Reflecting the background of profound immune deficiency, the AIDS-associated lymphomas were characterized by high aggressiveness, early tendency to generalization, frequent post-treatment relapse, and short periods of survival.

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