Medline: 2366078

Journal of Neurosurgery 73(2): 206-211, 1990.

Primary central nervous system lymphomas: natural history and response to radiation therapy in 55 patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Baumgartner JE, Rachlin JR, Beckstead JH, et al.


The incidence of primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma has increased rapidly in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and is predicted to exceed 1800 cases annually by 1991. To characterize the natural history and response to radiation therapy (RT) of these lesions, the authors have reviewed the clinical histories of 55 AIDS patients with biopsy-proven primary CNS lymphomas. The tumors responded both clinically and radiologically to whole-brain RT consisting of 4000 rad in 267-rad fractions over 3 weeks or an equivalent neuroret dose. The mean duration of survival from the appearance of symptoms consistent with the mass lesion was significantly greater in patients who received RT than in those who did not (42 vs. 134 days, p less than 0.5; median 27 vs. 119 days). Autopsy findings showed that patients who did not receive RT died from tumor progression, whereas those who completed RT died of opportunistic infections. Patients with AIDS who are suspected of having primary CNS lymphoma should therefore immediately undergo biopsy and, if the diagnosis is confirmed, whole-brain RT. With early diagnosis and treatment, these tumors respond to, and patients benefit from, RT. Survival of such patients may in the future be prolonged by more effective treatments for systemic opportunistic infections.

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