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J Clin Oncol. 2012 Oct 1;30(28):3452-9. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Concurrent expression of MYC and BCL2 in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma treated with rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone.

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British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is curable in 60% of patients treated with rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP). MYC translocations, with or without BCL2 translocations, have been associated with inferior survival in DLBCL. We investigated whether expression of MYC protein, with or without BCL2 protein expression, could risk-stratify patients at diagnosis.


We determined the correlation between presence of MYC and BCL2 proteins by immunohistochemistry (IHC) with survival in two independent cohorts of patients with DLBCL treated with R-CHOP. We further determined if MYC protein expression correlated with high MYC mRNA and/or presence of MYC translocation.


In the training cohort (n = 167), MYC and BCL2 proteins were detected in 29% and 44% of patients, respectively. Concurrent expression (MYC positive/BCL2 positive) was present in 21% of patients. MYC protein correlated with presence of high MYC mRNA and MYC translocation (both P < .001), but the latter was less frequent (both 11%). MYC protein expression was only associated with inferior overall and progression-free survival when BCL2 protein was coexpressed (P < .001). Importantly, the poor prognostic effect of MYC positive/BCL2 positive was validated in an independent cohort of 140 patients with DLBCL and remained significant (P < .05) after adjusting for presence of high-risk features in a multivariable model that included elevated international prognostic index score, activated B-cell molecular subtype, and presence of concurrent MYC and BCL2 translocations.


Assessment of MYC and BCL2 expression by IHC represents a robust, rapid, and inexpensive approach to risk-stratify patients with DLBCL at diagnosis.

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