Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma is a distinct entity with specific clinical and pathologic features that may affect diverse organs. MALT-lymphomas remain localized within their original environment for a long period of time. As recent data have demonstrated a relatively high rate of multiorgan involvement at diagnosis, the authors have retrospectively evaluated 36 patients presenting with MALT-lymphoma in the head and neck area. The authors focused on patients' disease localization, initial treatment, clinical course, and follow-up.
Thirty-six patients with a histologically verified diagnosis of an extranodal marginal zone B-cell MALT-lymphoma arising in the head and neck area were included in this retrospective analysis.
Treatment consisted of surgical resection as the sole treatment in 4 patients (11%), surgical resection with consecutive radiotherapy in 13 patients (36%), radiotherapy alone in 11 patients (31%), chemotherapy in 2 patients (6%), surgical resection plus radiotherapy and chemotherapy in 4 patients (11%), and combined radiation and chemotherapy in 1 patient (3%). Complete and partial disease remissions after initial treatment were achieved in 22 (61%) and 13 patients (36%), respectively, whereas one patient refused any therapy. Four patients (11%) were lost to follow-up and 15 patients (43%) have had disease recurrence after a median time of 11 months (range, 3-80 months).
These data suggest that MALT-lymphomas of the head and neck area are preferentially treated using local modalities such as radiation and/or resection. This practice, however, is associated with an unexpectedly high rate of dissemination or disease recurrence. Obtaining an initial complete response is crucial in these patients. According to previous data, the possibility of understaging in such patients cannot be ruled out. Clinical trials with application of systemic treatment are warranted for these patients.