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Pattern of Epstein–Barr virus association in childhood non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: Experience of University of Malaya Medical Center


Suat-Cheng Peh, MBBS, MPath, FRCPath, FRCPA, PhD, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


The pattern of childhood non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) usually differs in adults. The most common subtypes are lymphoblastic, Burkitt's and anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Recent data indicate that a higher risk of developing lymphoma is associated in children of certain ethnic origins. The difference is probably related to the underlying etiological factors of these diseases, and Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is a strong candidate. The present study aims to determine the disease pattern of childhood lymphomas in the University Hospital Kuala Lumpur, for a direct comparison to the reported data of adults from the same medical center. A total of 69 and 34 childhood NHL and Hodgkin's lymphomas, respectively, were retrieved. The most common subtypes were lymphoblastic (23 cases), Burkitt's (25 cases) and anaplastic large cell lymphomas (9 cases). Epstein–Barr virus association was more prevalent in B-cell (23%) than T-cell (12%) lymphomas. The most common EBV-associated tumor was Burkitt's lymphoma, and there was an increased risk of EBV association for Burkitt's lymphoma in Chinese patients. In conclusion, the pattern of childhood lymphoma in Malaysia is relatively similar to children elsewhere in the world. The EBV association of B- and T-NHL differs between children and adults from the same medical center because of differences in the subtype composition in these two age groups.

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