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Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of composite lymphomas

Ralf Küppers, Ulrich Dührsen, Martin-Leo Hansmann

The Lancet Oncology, Volume 15, Issue 10, September 2014, Pages e435-e446

Summary


In rare instances, two distinct lymphomas concurrently occur in a patient. Such composite lymphomas can be combinations of two non-Hodgkin lymphomas or a combination of a non-Hodgkin lymphoma and a Hodgkin's lymphoma. Composite lymphomas pose a particular diagnostic challenge, and there are currently no agreed standards for treatment. Combined B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas are often clonally unrelated. However, in many composite non-Hodgkin lymphomas and Hodgkin's lymphomas, the tumours are clonally related. In most of these instances, the malignant clones developed separately from a common precursor, usually a germinal centre B cell. This finding suggests a scenario in which the common premalignant precursor had acquired shared transforming events, and the two distinct lymphomas developed from descendants of that precursor after acquiring additional separate transforming events. Findings from molecular studies support this notion. Hence, clonally related composite lymphomas are elegant models to study the multistep transformation process in lymphomagenesis.


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