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Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL)


Updated April 11, 2014

Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma is the commonest type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).

It’s so called because...:

The B-cells that turn cancerous become large and look very different from ordinary cells. They affect all parts of the lymph node – a so called ‘diffuse’ involvement. That is why it’s called a diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

NHL type:

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is a lymphoma of B-cells. It is an aggressive lymphoma, sometimes termed as a high or intermediate grade lymphoma. That means that the lymphoma grows quickly, and can spread fast to different parts of the body. But high grade lymphomas are also more likely to be cured with treatment.

Get a hold on the names given to the different types of NHL in the article on NHL types.

Who gets this lymphoma?:

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma mostly affects those above 50 years of age, though people of any age can get it. It is more common in men than in women.

How does the disease affect the body?:

About 2/3 of those who have diffuse large B-cell lymphoma have widespread disease at the time of diagnosis, extending to different parts of the body. In nearly half of the patients, the disease affects parts of the body outside the lymph nodes (called ‘extranodal’ disease). The bone marrow is affected in about 10-20% of the patients.

Diagnosis and Tests for Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma:

The diagnosis of lymphoma is generally done with a lymph node biopsy. The disease is confirmed as a lymphoma, and the type of lymphoma is determined by looking at its cells under the microscope and special tests. Newly diagnosed patients have to undergo a series of tests to determine how far the disease affects the body. See the section on tests for the newly diagnosed.

Prognosis of DLBCL:

The prognosis depends on a number of factors including age and stage of disease. The factors are described in the section on prognostic factors of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).

Treatment of Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma:

The principles of treatment of DLBCL is described in the section on treatment of aggressive lymphomas. All patients receive chemotherapy. The most common regime is R-CHOP or CHOP for 6-8 cycles. Those in early stages also benefit from radiation to involved areas. Many patients, especially those in early stages of this lymphoma are cured of their cancer. Those who are not cured have options for further chemotherapy, antibody therapy and stem cell transplantation.

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