Background: Primary non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the liver is rare. In this study, the presentation, pathologic features, and outcome of seven Chinese patients with primary hepatic lymphoma are described.
Methods: From 1984 to 1994, the clinical records of 14 Chinese patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and histologically proven liver involvement were reviewed. Seven (four males, three females; median age, 54 years) were considered to have primary hepatic lymphoma. Histologic and immunohistochemical studies were performed on paraffin embedded liver tissue.
Results: "B" symptoms including fever (86%) and weight loss (57%) were the most striking presenting features. Hepatomegaly was present in all patients, splenomegaly in three (43%), and thrombocytopenia in six (86%). Only one patient was hepatitis B surface antigen-seropositive. None had preexisting liver disease. Histologic subtypes, though heterogeneous, were mostly unfavorable and consisted of diffuse large cell lymphoma (two patients), small lymphocytic lymphoma (one patient), lymphoblastic lymphoma (one case), mantle cell lymphoma (one patient), anaplastic large cell Ki-1 lymphoma (one patient), and hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (one patient). Three patients expressed B-cell and 2 expressed T-cell phenotypes. Six patients received cytotoxic chemotherapy. One had resection and one had splenectomy, but none achieved complete remission, and only one remained alive as of this writing. The median survival was 3.7 months (range, 8 days to 47.7 months).
Conclusion: Chinese patients with primary non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the liver have prominent "B" symptoms, disease with a highly aggressive course, a poor response to local and systemic treatment, and short survival. Hepatitis B virus infection is not a major etiologic factor for these patients.