Primary Mediastinal B-Cell Lymphoma: A 2021 Update on Genetics, Diagnosis, and Novel Therapeutics

Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk. 2021 Nov;21(11):e865-e875. doi: 10.1016/j.clml.2021.06.012. Epub 2021 Jun 24.


Primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL) is an aggressive B-cell lymphoma arising from thymic B-cells having clinicopathologic features distinct from systemic diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). PMBCL comprises 2% to 4% of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL), 7% of DLBCL and seen predominantly in young females with a median age of 35 years at diagnosis. The annual incidence of PMBCL is 0.4 per million with a 5-year survival rate exceeding 70% with improving supportive care and genetic characterization of the disease. Pathogenesis involves dysregulation of Janus kinase-signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK-STAT), nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB) pathways and amplification of the 9p24.1 region of chromosome 9. PMBCL patients have a prolonged life expectancy necessitating the need for treatment approaches that are based on maximizing cure with minimal long-term toxicity. Due to rarity and its recognition as a distinct entity, therapeutic decisions are guided by clinical presentation, clinician and center experience, and analysis of patients with PMBCL within DLBCL registries. Historically R-CHOP has been the usual first line treatment for PMBCL followed by involved site radiotherapy (ISRT), however clinical practice varies across centers with emerging consensus to avoid upfront RT by utilizing dose intense regimens (DA-EPOCH-R) in younger and fit patients. Prognosis of relapsed refractory PMBCL not responding to salvage chemotherapy is dismal, however there are many emerging options including Brentuximab Vedotin, immune check point inhibitors and chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy. In this article, we focus on the pathogenesis, current and evolving treatments, and provide recommendations for optimal management of patients with PMBCL.

Keywords: Female; Lymphoma; Mediastinum; Radiotherapy; Thymus.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / genetics
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / therapy*
  • Male
  • Young Adult