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Oncologist. 2007 May;12(5):569-76.

Primary effusion lymphoma.

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Dana-Faber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is a rare HIV-associated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) that accounts for approximately 4% of all HIV-associated NHL. PEL has a unique clinical presentation in having a predilection for arising in body cavities such as the pleural space, pericardium, and peritoneum. PEL cells are morphologically variable with a null lymphocyte immunophenotype and evidence of human herpesvirus (HHV)-8 infection. The exact oncogenic mechanisms of HHV-8 have not been clearly defined. Treatment is usually with combination CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone) chemotherapy and antiretroviral therapy (if HIV positive). The prognosis for PEL is poor, with a median survival time of around 6 months. As the exact molecular steps in HHV-8-driven oncogenesis are unraveled, it is hoped that more specific therapeutic targets will be revealed.

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