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Open Access Highly Accessed Case report

Primary pancreatic lymphoma – pancreatic tumours that are potentially curable without resection, a retrospective review of four cases

Peter S Grimison12*, Melvin T Chin1, Michelle L Harrison1 and David Goldstein12

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Australia

2 Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:117  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-117

Published: 4 May 2006

Abstract

Background

Primary pancreatic lymphomas (PPL) are rare tumours of the pancreas. Symptoms, imaging and tumour markers can mimic pancreatic adenocarcinoma, but they are much more amenable to treatment. Treatment for PPL remains controversial, particularly the role of surgical resection.

Methods

Four cases of primary pancreatic lymphoma were identified at Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Australia. A literature review of cases of PPL reported between 1985 and 2005 was conducted, and outcomes were contrasted.

Results

All four patients presented with upper abdominal symptoms associated with weight loss. One case was diagnosed without surgery. No patients underwent pancreatectomy. All patients were treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and two of four patients received rituximab. One patient died at 32 months. Three patients are disease free at 15, 25 and 64 months, one after successful retreatment. Literature review identified a further 103 patients in 11 case series. Outcomes in our series and other series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy compared favourably to surgical series.

Conclusion

Biopsy of all pancreatic masses is essential, to exclude potentially curable conditions such as PPL, and can be performed without laparotomy. Combined multimodality treatment, utilising chemotherapy and radiotherapy, without surgical resection is advocated but a cooperative prospective study would lead to further improvement in treatment outcomes.