Histiocytic Lymphoma


This entry looks at a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma called true histiocytic lymphoma (THL), also referred to as diffuse histiocytic lymphoma, and sometimes referred to as histiocytic sarcoma and reticulosarcoma, a subtype of lymphoma.

What is histiocytic lymphoma?

First, some clarification: technically speaking, the term 'histiocytic lymphoma' is outdated and no longer in widespread use, inasmuch as it once referred to a subtype of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that today we would very likely classify as an anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).

A histiocyte is a type of macrophage that is found in the body's connective tissue. They work together with lymphocytes to fight foreign pathogens by building antibodies. Because these cells are not white blood cells, but rather make up a type of connective tissue, their classification has traditionally been confusing. This is why you see the term 'sarcoma' in some of the other names for this disease, because a sarcoma is, at its most fundamental, a cancer of any sort of connective tissue.

Treatment and prognosis of histiocytic lymphoma

Because these types of tumors are so rare, there is no consensus about the optimal treatment plan. Generally, doctors will adjust treatment according to how diffuse large cell lymphomas are treated in the same stages as THL.

Prognosis is generally rather poor, not because histiocytic lymphoma is aggressive—in fact, and tends to be indolent—but because they are so rare that little evidence exists to adequately support one treatment over another. Furthermore, these lymphomas quite often are recurrent as well.


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