Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma with rapid evolution to leukemic phase
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Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a lymphoproliferative disorder that frequently presents with disseminated disease and extranodal involvement. Rare atypical cells have been detected in the peripheral blood in occasional cases. However, the presence of a prominent leukemic phase is extremely rare in these patients. We describe a patient with a small-cell variant of ALCL of T-cell phenotype, ALK-1 positive, who developed a rapid leukemic phase in association with the progression of the disease. Similar to the nodal biopsy, the predominant cells in bone marrow and peripheral blood were small atypical lymphoid cells. The large tumor cells expressed ALK immunoreactivity with a cytoplasmic and nuclear pattern, whereas some of the small cells showed only a nuclear-restricted pattern of staining. An RT-PCR study detected the NPM-ALK chimeric product in the nodal biopsy and in a peripheral blood sample in the early phase of the disease, but it became negative in a peripheral blood sample obtained after completion of the chemotherapy treatment, suggesting that this assay may be useful in the follow-up of these patients. This case indicates that a prominent leukemic phase may develop in ALCL as a manifestation of tumor dissemination and that it may be composed of a predominant small-cell atypical component.
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