• primary central nervous system lymphoma;
  • methotrexate;
  • radiotherapy;
  • cytarabine;
  • toxicity



This retrospective single-center study assesses the feasibility, therapeutic outcome, and late side effects of combined modality therapy with intravenous methotrexate, whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT), and intravenous cytarabine in patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL).


All 28 consecutive patients diagnosed with PCNSL between 1991 and 1997 were scheduled to receive combined modality therapy. Seven of 28 patients did not receive combined modality treatment: 6 patients had WBRT alone because of poor physical condition, and 1 patient died before receiving treatment. Of the remaining 21 patients, 5 received the complete regimen, and 16 received a modified regimen with reduced dose intensity.


Fourteen of 21 patients (67%) treated with combined modality therapy had a complete response; 1 had a partial response. Median survival was 11 months in all 28 patients, 23 months in all patients with combined modality treatment, and 41 months in patients receiving the complete regimen. Of 15 examinable patients with a follow-up of 8 months or more, 10 developed severely symptomatic and 5 mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic diffuse white matter changes.


Only a small subgroup of all patients with PCNSL appears to be eligible for receiving all parts of the combined modality regimen. Treatment in these patients leads to a marked prolongation of survival. The risk of late side effects is high even with modified, dose intensity–reduced versions of combined modality treatment. Cancer 2001;91:130–5. © 2001 American Cancer Society.