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Br J Haematol. 1997 Jun;97(4):821-9.

CD56+ NK lymphomas: clinicopathological features and prognosis.

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University Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong.


The surface molecule CD56 marks a category of malignant lymphoma of putative natural killer (NK) cell origin. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 24 cases of CD56+ NK lymphoma/leukaemia to define the clinicopathologic and prognostic features of this specific group of lymphomas. 56 cases of nasal lymphomas and 204 cases with an initial diagnosis of peripheral T-cell lymphoma were retrospectively analysed. To specifically examine lymphomas of putative NK origin, only those that were negative for surface expression of CD3 but positive for CD56 were analysed. 24 cases were identified. The initial predominant sites of involvement were nasal (n = 18), palate (n = 1), nodal (n = 1) and multi-organ (n = 4). Clinically, in patients with disease localized to one anatomical site (n = 20), most had symptoms confined to the nose, with a high percentage in early stage (I: 91%; IV: 9%). The marrow was not involved in any of these cases. However, patients with multi-organ involvement at presentation (n = 4) behaved differently. All presented acutely with pancytopenia, hepatosplenomegaly, and marrow infiltration with haemophagocytosis. A leukaemic phase was observed in one case. Anthracycline containing combination chemotherapy resulted in complete remission in 75% of patients with localized disease, but only in 25% with multi-organ involvement. The median survival of patients with localized disease was 12 months, compared with 2 months in the multi-organ group (P = 0.06); the disease-free survival was significantly better in the former (P < 0.01). The overall median survival of all patients was still poor at 11 months. We conclude that CD56+ NK lymphomas could be divided into two main patterns of disease presentations: localized (predominantly nasal), and multi-organ involvement. Each has different clinicopathologic and prognostic features. Conventional chemotherapy appeared ineffective for the majority of patients, and innovative treatment modalities are needed to improve outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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