Primary effusion lymphoma: A clinicopathological study of 70 cases

Zhihong Hu, Zenggang Pan, Weina Chen, Yang Shi, Wei Wang, Ji Yuan, Endi Wang, Shanxiang Zhang, Habibe Kurt, Brenda Mai, Xiaohui Zhang, Hui Liu, Adan A. Rios, Hilary Y. Ma, Nghia D. Nguyen, L. Jeffrey Medeiros, Shimin Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is a rare type of large B-cell lymphoma associated with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8) infection. Patients with PEL usually present with an effusion, but occasionally with an extracavitary mass. In this study, we reported a cohort of 70 patients with PEL: 67 men and 3 women with a median age of 46 years (range 26–91). Of these, 56 (80%) patients had human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, eight were HIV-negative, and six had unknown HIV status. Nineteen (27%) patients had Kaposi sarcoma. Thirty-five (50%) patients presented with effusion only, 27 (39%) had an extracavitary mass or masses only, and eight (11%) had both effusion and extracavitary disease. The lymphoma cells showed plasmablastic, immunoblastic, or anaplastic morphology. All 70 (100%) cases were positive for HHV8. Compared with effusion-only PEL, patients with extracavitary-only PEL were younger (median age, 42 vs. 52 years, p = 0.001), more likely to be HIV-positive (88.9% vs. 68.6%, p = 0.06) and EBV-positive (76.9% vs. 51.9%, p = 0.06), and less often positive for CD45 (69.2% vs. 96.2%, p = 0.01), EMA (26.7% vs. 100%, p = 0.0005), and CD30 (60% vs. 81.5%, p = 0.09). Of 52 (50%) patients with clinical follow-up, 26 died after a median follow-up time of 40.0 months (range 0–96), and the median overall survival was 42.5 months. The median OS for patients with effusion-only and with extracavitary-only PEL were 30.0 and 37.9 months, respectively (p = 0.34), and patients with extracavitary-only PEL had a lower mortality rate at the time of last follow-up (35% vs. 61.5%, p = 0.07). The median OS for HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients were 42.5 and 6.8 months, respectively (p = 0.57), and they had a similar mortality rate of 50% at last follow-up. In conclusion, patients presenting with effusion-only versus extracavitary-only disease are associated with different clinicopathologic features. PEL is an aggressive lymphoma with a poor prognosis, regardless of extracavitary presentation or HIV status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number878
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2 2021


  • EBV
  • Extracavitary variant
  • HHV8
  • HIV
  • Highly active antiretroviral therapy
  • Kaposi sarcoma
  • Primary effusion lymphoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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