Early cancer of the stomach arising after successful treatment of gastric MALT lymphoma in patients with autoimmune disease

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;38(3):294-7. doi: 10.1080/00365520310000582.


Background: Extranodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma of the mucosa associated lymphoid tissue (MALT lymphoma) arises in lymphoid tissue acquired through chronic antigenic stimulation as exemplified by Helicobacter pylori. Secondary development of gastric cancer, however, is thought to be a rare event. The detection of a signet ring cell carcinoma during follow-up endoscopy after successful therapy of MALT lymphoma in a patient with Sjögren's syndrome prompted us to analyse the frequency of subsequent gastric cancer in patients with underlying autoimmune disease (AD).

Methods: Patients with early stage MALT lymphoma and an underlying AD were evaluated for the occurrence of a secondary gastric cancer during the course of follow-up. Data analysed included the type of AD, stage of MALT lymphoma, H. pylori status, treatment for MALT lymphoma and response, follow-up, the presence of a secondary cancer, and time to development of cancer. In all patients, histologic samples were reassessed for the extent of gastritis, presence of intestinal metaplasia or focal atrophy at the time of lymphoma diagnosis.

Results: A total of eight patients with overt AD at the time of diagnosis of MALT lymphoma were identified. All patients were women aged between 56 and 77 years; 5 had Sjögren's syndrome, 2 had autoimmune thyroiditis (1 along with psoriasis) and 1 suffered from polymyalgia rheumatica. All patients had early stage MALT lymphoma restricted to the mucosa and submucosa at the time of diagnosis, and the presence of H. pylori was found in all cases. Two of these patients achieved complete remission (CR) of the lymphoma following H. pylori eradication, while six were judged unresponsive and underwent chemotherapy, resulting in CR in all cases. One patient died from stroke while being in CR for 2 months following chemotherapy. Two patients (25%) developed early cancer limited to the gastric mucosa while being in CR from lymphoma for 9 and 27 months, respectively, and underwent partial gastrectomy. Final staging of gastric cancer revealed pT1pN0M0 in both cases. Of the remaining 5 cases, 1 patient had a local lymphoma relapse 18 months after CR and was salvaged with radiotherapy. In the remaining 4 patients, no evidence of lymphoma recurrence or a second malignancy has been found so far by regular follow-up every 3 months for a time-span between 52 and 63 months after initial diagnosis.

Conclusion: Patients with concurrent MALT lymphoma and an underlying autoimmune condition show not only an impaired response to H. pylori eradication but might also be at increased risk for the development of gastric cancer. In view of this, such patients should be followed closely by regular endoscopies after remission of MALT lymphoma.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Austria
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy*
  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / therapy
  • Endosonography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / therapy*
  • Metaplasia
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / diagnosis
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / therapy
  • Pyloric Antrum / pathology
  • Remission Induction
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / therapy
  • Stomach Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Stomach Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome