Aims: Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is classically considered a clinicopathological entity separate from other nodal mature T-cell lymphomas (TCL). Recently, the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) protein was shown to identify a subgroup of nodal ALCL with an excellent prognosis, whereas ALK-negative ALCLs are more heterogeneous. The aim of this study was to investigate the clinicopathological parameters in relation to clinical behaviour of ALK-negative ALCL compared with other nodal mature TCL, i.e. peripheral TCL, unspecified (PTCL-NOS) and angioimmunoblastic lymphoma (AILT).
Methods and results: Clinicopathological data of ALK-positive (n = 28) and ALK-negative (n = 46) ALCL; PTCL-NOS (n = 47); and AILT (n = 12) were analysed for their prognostic significance. While ALK-positive ALCL shows favourable clinical features and a good prognosis, ALK-negative ALCL, PTCL-NOS and AILT are all associated with high age groups, advanced disease stage, and poor prognosis (<45% 5-year survival). In multivariate analysis of overall survival time, performed in the combined group of ALK-negative nodal mature T-cell lymphomas, only age and the International Prognostic Index (IPI) remained independent prognostic parameters, while lymphoma subtype (ALCL versus PTCL-NOS versus AILT) gave no additional information.
Conclusions: The distinction between ALK-negative ALCL and PTCL-NOS or AILT is of limited clinical relevance as they show comparable poor prognosis. In these lymphoma subtypes, only age and the IPI are of significant prognostic value.