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ESSENTIALS OF DIAGNOSIS

  • Often present with painless lymphadenopathy.

  • Diagnosis is made by tissue biopsy.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

The non-Hodgkin lymphomas are a heterogeneous group of cancers of lymphocytes usually presenting as enlarged lymph nodes. The disorders vary in clinical presentation and course from indolent to rapidly progressive.

Molecular biology has provided clues to the pathogenesis of these disorders, often a matter of balanced chromosomal translocations whereby an oncogene becomes juxtaposed next to either an immunoglobulin gene (B-cell lymphoma) or the T-cell receptor gene or related gene (T-cell lymphoma). The net result is oncogene overexpression and development of lymphoma. The best-studied example is Burkitt lymphoma, in which a characteristic cytogenetic abnormality of translocation between the long arms of chromosomes 8 and 14 has been identified. The protooncogene c-myc is translocated from its normal position on chromosome 8 to the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus on chromosome 14. Overexpression of c-myc is related to malignant transformation through excess B-cell proliferation. In the follicular lymphomas, the t(14;18) translocation is characteristic and bcl-2 is overexpressed, resulting in protection against apoptosis, the usual mechanism of B-cell death.

Classification of the lymphomas is a dynamic area still undergoing evolution. The 2017 grouping (Table 13–16) separates diseases based on both clinical and pathologic features. Eighty-five percent of non-Hodgkin lymphomas are B-cell and 15% are T-cell or NK-cell in origin. Even though non-Hodgkin lymphomas represent a diverse group of diseases, they are historically divided in two categories based on clinical behavior and pathology: the indolent (low-grade) and the aggressive (intermediate- or high-grade).

Table 13–16.World Health Organization classification of lymphomas.

CLINICAL FINDINGS

A. Symptoms and Signs

Patients with non-Hodgkin lymphomas usually present with lymphadenopathy. Involved lymph nodes may be present peripherally or centrally (in the retroperitoneum, mesentery, and pelvis). The indolent lymphomas are usually disseminated at the time of diagnosis, and bone marrow involvement is frequent. Many patients with lymphoma have ...

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