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MALT Lymphomas.

This review addresses the biology and the treatment of lymphomas arising from mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT). This entity, first described in 1983, represents about 8% of all non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and was recently re-classified as "extranodal marginal zone lymphomas of MALT-type." The term marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) encompasses the three closely related lymphoma subtypes of nodal, primary splenic and extranodal lymphomas of MALT type: the latter represent the vast majority of MZL. These lymphomas arise at different anatomic sites, are composed of mature B-cells lacking expression of CD5 and CD10, often present with overlapping morphologic features, but typically quite distinct clinical behaviors. Only very recently cytogenetic/molecular genetic observations have underlined the distinctiveness of these three lymphoid neoplasms, which in both the R.E.A.L. and WHO-classifications are included in the general term of MZL. MALT lymphomas arise in numerous extranodal sites, but gastric MALT lymphoma is the most common and best studied and is, therefore, the paradigm for the group as a whole. Dr. Isaacson describes the principal histological features of these lymphomas, including criteria to distinguish this entity from other small B-cell lymphomas. Several lines of evidence suggest that gastric lymphoma arises from MALT acquired as the result of aH. pyloriinfection. However, at least 1/3 of cases do not respond to eradication ofH. pylori. Very recent data suggest that both t(11;18) (q21;q21) and bcl10 nuclear expression are associated with failure to respond to this treatment. Dr. Gascoyne discusses the biologic function of proteins deregulated through the different translocations, which play a role in pathogenesis of MALT lymphomas, emphasizing particularly their influence in disrupting the apoptotic pathway. Dr. Zucca reviews findings suggesting that MALT lymphoma is an antigen driven neoplasm. He also presents specific guidelines for treatment of gastric lymphomas trying to shed some light on the amazingly inconsistent and confusing data in the literature. Taking advantage on the more than 300 non-gastric MALT lymphomas collected by the International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group (ILESG), Dr. Cavalli compares gastric lymphomas with those arising in many other sites. Overall, the data presented in this session will underline the fact, that MALT lymphomas are characterized by some unique biological properties.

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