• primary central nervous system;
  • lymphoma;
  • incidence;
  • prognosis;
  • therapy



An excessive increase in the incidence of primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) has been reported since the mid-1980s in the U.S. and U.K. Clinical studies have shown that radiotherapy and chemotherapy may prolong survival. In the current study, the authors describe the incidence, treatment, and survival of an unselected group of patients with PCNSL in the southern and eastern Netherlands.


Data regarding patients diagnosed between 1989–1994 were obtained from 4 population-based regional cancer registries in the southern and eastern Netherlands (n = 86) and the Eindhoven Cancer Registry for 1980–1988 (n = 6). Lymphomas were registered as PCNSL when a tissue diagnosis of CNS lymphoma was established for a patient with neurologic symptoms (i.e., lymphomas were not necessarily restricted to the CNS at the time of diagnosis). Only patients diagnosed during their lifetime with Stage I disease, Stage “IV” disease (i.e., diffuse CNS lymphoma), or disease of unknown stage were included (63 patients, 8 patients, and 15 patients, respectively, between 1989–1994). For 80 patients (93%) follow-up was complete until January 1, 1997.


Between 1989–1994, an average World Standardized Rate of 2.3 cases and 1.7 cases per 1 million person-years, respectively, was reported for males and females. The median age of the patients at the time of diagnosis was 62 years, and was 66 years for patients with an unknown disease stage. In the area of the Eindhoven Cancer Registry the occurrence of PCNSL more than doubled from < 2% of all histologically confirmed primary CNS malignancies diagnosed between 1980–1985 to approximately 4% of cases diagnosed between 1986–1994. The median survival of all the patients was 4.1 months; the median survival was 5.8 months for patients with limited (Stage I and Stage IV) disease and was 0.6 months for patients with an unknown stage of disease. Approximately 65% of the patients with limited disease received radiotherapy and approximately 35% of such patients received chemotherapy. Furthermore, chemotherapy was given more often to patients age < 60 years who tended to have a slightly better survival than patients age ≥ 60 years.


The increase in the incidence of PCNSL in the 1980s may be explained in large part by changes in diagnostics and registration. The relatively high incidence and low survival rate of PCNSL in the southern and eastern Netherlands reported in the 1990s may be due in part to the inclusion of patients with systemic lymphoma and immunodeficiency disorders. However, a significant improvement in the prognosis of patients with PCNSL in the southern and eastern Netherlands diagnosed in the 1990s is unlikely. Cancer 2002;94:1548–56. © 2002 American Cancer Society.

DOI 10.1002/cncr.10357