Joachim M. Baehring, Denise Damek, Emily C. Martin, Rebecca A. Betensky, Fred H. Hochberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The term "neurolymphomatosis" (NL) has included infiltration of the peripheral nervous system by lymphoma and nontumor lymphocytes. We describe NL as a lymphoma entity that affects cranial and peripheral nerves and roots. We reviewed the medical records of patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) who registered between 1972 and 2000, as well as cases published in the English-language literature. Inclusion criteria were (A) histopathologic demonstration of lymphoma within peripheral nerve, nerve root/plexus, or cranial nerve or (B) CT/MRI or intraoperative evidence of nerve enlargement and/or enhancement beyond the dural sleeve in the setting of prior or concurrent lymphoma in systemic or CNS sites. We identified 25 patients with NL in addition to 47 reported by others. Four clinical presentations were (1) painful involvement of nerves or roots, (2) cranial neuropathy with or without pain, (3) painless involvement of peripheral nerves, (4) painful or painless involvement of a single peripheral nerve. Twenty of our patients and 44 of those reported had histopathologic confirmation of lymphoma infiltrating root or nerve. In the remainder, diagnosis was based upon clinical presentation, nodular nerve enlargement or enhancement, and lymphoma cells in spinal fluid or extraneural sites. For antemortem diagnosis, imaging studies were of greatest utility, followed by biopsy. Thirty-three patients of the combined series were not correctly diagnosed until postmortem examination. Systemic chemotherapy was used to address the multiple potential sites of involvement. When properly treated, NL carries a prognosis similar to primary CNS lymphoma in the modern era.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-115
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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