The development of low-grade gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma is closely associated with Helicobacter pylori infection. Despite its indolent clinical course and prolonged localization to the site of origin, the lymphoma frequently presents with multifocal lesions. However, the true extent of tumour involvement in the gastric mucosa is unclear, since reactive appearing lymphocytic infiltrates are always present and could contain tumour cells that are not readily identifiable on cytological grounds. Gastrectomy specimens of four MALT lymphoma cases were studied by microdissection and clone-specific polymerase chain reaction (CS-PCR) and of a further case with t(1;14)(p22;q32) by immunohistochemistry for BCL10 protein, which acted as a tumour marker for tumour cells carrying the translocation. CS-PCR revealed that tumour cells were commonly present in histologically non-lymphomatous lymphocytic infiltrates microdissected from areas well separated from tumour lesions. Tumour cells were also frequently found in infiltrates microdissected from the resection margins. These findings were reinforced by direct identification of tumour cells, as recognized by strong BCL10 nuclear staining, in non-lymphomatous lymphocytic infiltrates in the case with t(1;14)(p22;q32). The results show that gastric MALT lymphoma disseminates widely within the gastric mucosa without necessarily forming diagnostic lesions.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.