Progress in understanding and managing natural killer-cell malignancies

Authors


Kazuo Oshimi, MD, Department of Haematology, Juntendo University School of Medicine, 2-1-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8421, Japan. E-mail: oshimi@med.juntendo.ac.jp

Summary

The World Health Organization classification of haematolymphoid tumours recognizes three categories of natural killer (NK)-cell neoplasms: blastic NK-cell lymphoma, aggressive NK-cell leukaemia, and extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma, nasal-type. Recent studies indicate that CD4+CD56+ blastic NK-cell lymphoma is of plasmacytoid dendritic cell origin, and true tumours of precursor NK-cell origin may be present mainly in the CD4CD56+ subset. Myeloid/NK-cell precursor acute leukaemia may also develop from precursor NK cells. However, because the developmental pathway of normal NK cells is not well understood, tumours of precursor NK-cell origin are not clearly identified. Among mature NK-cell tumours, extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma is relatively common in Asia and Latin America. In localized disease, chemoradiotherapy seems to be promising, and in advanced disease, new combination chemotherapies are under active investigation. Aggressive NK-cell leukaemia is rare and has a poor prognosis. Because NK-cell neoplasms are rare and difficult to manage, rigorous studies are required for their understanding and management.

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