Blastic NK-Cell Lymphoma

Cells of the immune system

Blastic NK cell lymphoma (a.k.a. CD4+CD56+ hematodermic neoplasm) is an extremely rare, aggressive form of lymphoma that affects the natural killer cells of the immune system. Natural killer cells are beneficial specialized lymphocytes that attack viruses and tumor cells. Unlike extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma, blastic NK cell lymphoma is not associated with the Epstein-Barr virus. This type of lymphoma affects mostly elderly patients, and only a few cases are documented each year. The first case was documented in 1994.


Blastic NK cell lymphoma resembles leukemia as well as other cutaneous lymhomas and skin diseases and can only be diagnosed in the lab where natural killer cells are analyzed for specific markers. The CD56 antigen is present in Blastic NK cell Lymphoma, which is a known surface marker for natural killer cells.


Blastic NK cell lymphoma is resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Aggressive chemotherapy associated with radiotherapy followed by bone marrow transplantation still produces poor outcomes.

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