Extranodal NK or T Cell Lymphoma - Nasal

epstein barr virus
Leukemia cells that contain Epstein Barr virus, Dr. Paul Feorino, CDC

Extranodal NK/T-Cell Lymphoma is a cancer of the natural killer cells and/or T-cells found in the nasal cavity. This aggressive cancer is rare in the United States and affects mostly those of Asian or Latin American decent. Tumors usually occur in the naval cavity, though involvement of the skin, kidneys, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and respiratory tract is not uncommon.

It is usually associated with the Epstein-Barr virus (mononucleosis). "Extranodal" denotes that it is found outside of the lymph nodes.

Diagnosis and Staging

Patients usually present with nose bleeds, nasal masses, or damage to the nose. If the disease has spread to other areas of the body, skin ulcers or GI perforation may also be symptoms. Diagnosis is made via biopsy. Staging is done with other tests, such as X-rays, PET scans, CT scans, and ultrasounds. Because the disease is extremely rare, there is no defined staging system in place.


Treatments are currently being researched. New clinical trials are usually underway, so patients and doctors should consult the latest scientific literature to discover the most up-to-date treatment regimens. Common treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy using the CHOP regimen
  • Radiation used in combination with chemotherapy
  • Bone marrow/stem cell transplants are being researched as a treatment for extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma

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