Follicular lymphoma

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Follicular lymphoma
Classification and external resources

Follicular lymphoma replacing a lymph node
ICD-10 C82.
ICD-9 202.0
ICD-O: M9690/3
OMIM 151430
eMedicine med/1362
MeSH D008224
GeneReviews 2=

Follicular lymphoma is the most common of the indolent non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, and the second most common form of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas overall. It is defined as a lymphoma of follicle center B-cells (centrocytes and centroblasts), which has at least a partially follicular pattern. It is positive for CD10,[1] and usually negative for CD5.[2]

There are several synonymous and obsolete terms for this disease, such as CB/CC lymphoma (Centroblastic and Centrocytic lymphoma), nodular lymphoma[3] and Brill-Symmers Disease.



The tumor is composed of follicles containing a mixture of centrocytes (WHO nomenclature) or cleaved follicle center cells (older American nomenclature), "small cells", and centroblasts (WHO nomenclature) or large noncleaved follicle center cells (older American nomenclature), "large cells". These follicles are surrounded by non-malignant cells, mostly T-cells. In the follicles, centrocytes typically predominate; centroblasts are usually in minority.


According to the WHO criteria, the disease is morphologically graded into:[4]

  • grade 1 (<5 centroblasts per high-power field (hpf))
  • grade 2 (6-15 centroblasts/hpf)
  • grade 3 (>15 centroblasts/hpf).

Grade 3 is further subdivided into:

    • grade 3a (centrocytes still present)
    • the rare grade 3b (the follicles consist almost entirely of centroblasts)

The clinical relevance of this grading system is debated, although grades 1, 2 and 3a can be treated as an indolent disease, while grade 3b is an aggressive disease. Occasional cases may show plasmacytoid differentiation or foci of marginal zone or monocytoid B-cells.


A translocation between chromosome14 and 18 results in the overexpression of the bcl-2 gene.[5] As the bcl-2 protein is normally involved in preventing apoptosis, cells with an overexpression of this protein are basically immortal. The bcl-2 gene is normally found on chromosome 18, and the translocation moves the gene near to the site of the immunoglobulin heavy chain enhancer element on chromosome 14.

Translocations of BCL6 at 3q27 can also be involved.[6]


There is no consensus regarding the best treatment protocol. Several considerations should be taken into account including age, stage and prognostic scores. Patients with advanced disease who are asymptomatic might benefit of a watch and wait approach as early treatment does not provide survival benefit. When patients are symptomatic, specific treatment is required which might include various combinations of alkylators, nucleoside analogues, anthracycline-containing regimens (eg. CHOP) monoclonal antibodies (rituximab), radiommunotherapy, autologous and allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The disease is regarded as incurable (although allogeneic stem cell transplanation may be curative, the mortality from the procedure is too high to be a first line option). The exception is localized disease, which can be cured by local irradiation. The Bendandi idiopathic personalized vaccine, developed at the University de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, has recently been used with excellent results in those patients which exhibit a solid immune response.[citation needed] The typical pattern is one of good responses from treatment, followed by relapses some years later.


Median survival is around 10 years, but the range is wide, from less than one year, to more than 20 years. Some patients may never need treatment.


Of all cancers involving the same class of blood cell, 22% of cases are follicular lymphomas.[7]


  1. Overview at UMDNJ
  2. Barekman CL, Aguilera NS, Abbondanzo SL (July 2001). "Low-grade B-cell lymphoma with coexpression of both CD5 and CD10. A report of 3 cases". Arch. Pathol. Lab. Med. 125 (7): 951–3. PMID 11419985. 
  3. follicular lymphoma at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  4. "Follicular Lymphomas". Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  5. Bosga-Bouwer AG, van Imhoff GW, Boonstra R, et al. (February 2003). "Follicular lymphoma grade 3B includes 3 cytogenetically defined subgroups with primary t(14;18), 3q27, or other translocations: t(14;18) and 3q27 are mutually exclusive". Blood 101 (3): 1149–54. doi:10.1182/blood.V101.3.1149. PMID 12529293. 
  6. Bosga-Bouwer AG, Haralambieva E, Booman M, et al. (November 2005). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "BCL6 alternative translocation breakpoint cluster region associated with follicular lymphoma grade 3B"]. Genes Chromosomes Cancer 44 (3): 301–4. doi:10.1002/gcc.20246. PMID 16075463. 
  7. Turgeon, Mary Louise (2005). Clinical hematology: theory and procedures. Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 283. ISBN 0-7817-5007-5. "Frequency of lymphoid neoplasms. (Source: Modified from WHO Blue Book on Tumour of Hematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues. 2001, p. 2001.)" 

External links

de:Follikuläres Lymphom

he:לימפומה פוליקולרית pl:Chłoniak grudkowy

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