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Plasmablastic Lymphoma (PBL) is a rare type of cancer most commonly found in HIV-positive individuals; though, it may also occur in HIV-negative individuals with immunodeficiency.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • PBL (Plasmablastic Lymphoma)

What is Plasmablastic Lymphoma? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Plasmablastic Lymphoma (PBL) is a rare type of cancer most commonly found in HIV-positive individuals; though, it may also occur in HIV-negative individuals with immunodeficiency
  • It usually occurs in the oral and nasopharyngeal cavities, but may also occur in the GI tract, omentum, lungs, testes, bones, lymph nodes, skin, or central nervous system
  • The origin of the condition is currently unknown, but it has been shown to be associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Most individuals with PBL complain of oral pain. Upon further testing, usually mass lesions are found, indicating Plasmablastic Lymphoma. In most cases, the oral clinical features of this cancer type are not unique enough to distinguish it from other oral conditions
  • Tissue biopsies are performed to test the affected area, and through histopathology and immunophenotypic studies, the diagnosis can be confirmed
  • The prognosis of Plasmablastic Lymphoma is poor. Chemotherapy and radiation are the therapeutic options available, although success rates are low, with most patients dying within a year of diagnosis

Who gets Plasmablastic Lymphoma? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Plasmablastic Lymphoma occurs at a higher rate in males than in females
  • The mean age for its occurrence in HIV-positive patients is 39 years. In HIV-negative patients, the mean age of individuals with PBL is 58 years

What are the Risk Factors for Plasmablastic Lymphoma? (Predisposing Factors)

Risk factors associated with Plasmablastic Lymphoma are:

  • Infection with HIV virus
  • Infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Plasmablastic Lymphoma? (Etiology)

Currently, the cause of Plasmablastic Lymphoma (PBL) is unknown.

  • Through extensive research, it is believed that immunosuppression (reduced immune system function) plays an important role in its development
  • As the immune system weakens, it becomes easier for lymphoid cells to build lesions and tumors that cause cancers such as PBL
  • Epstein-Barr virus has also been present in almost 75% of Plasmablastic Lymphoma cases, indicating that EBV may play a role in the development of this condition

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Plasmablastic Lymphoma?

Common signs and symptoms of Plasmablastic Lymphoma are:

  • Presence of tumor-like growths and masses
  • Toothaches
  • Oral pain
  • Fever, night sweats
  • Unintentional weight loss

How is Plasmablastic Lymphoma Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Plasmablastic Lymphoma may involve:

  • Complete evaluation of medical history and a thorough physical exam to establish the signs and symptoms
  • Radiological studies of the affected area, including x-ray, CT scan, and MRI scan
  • The definitive diagnostic test is a tissue biopsy of the tumor in which a small sample of tissue is taken and sent to the laboratory for examination under a microscope. Some specialized tests may also be conducted in the laboratory (on the biopsy sample) to confirm the diagnosis of Plasmablastic Lymphoma

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Plasmablastic Lymphoma?

The complications of Plasmablastic Lymphoma could include:

  • Most individuals who are diagnosed with Plasmablastic Lymphoma may also been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, which may complicate the treatment process and their response to the treatment
  • Complications associated with an HIV infection

How is Plasmablastic Lymphoma Treated?

  • Chemotherapy and radiation are currently the best treatment options available for Plasmablastic Lymphoma
  • Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is also used in patients who are HIV-positive

How can Plasmablastic Lymphoma be Prevented?

  • Currently, there are no known measures to prevent Plasmablastic Lymphoma
  • One may be able to lower the risk of PBL by taking measures to prevent HIV, although it is not guaranteed

What is the Prognosis of Plasmablastic Lymphoma? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • The prognosis of Plasmablastic Lymphoma is generally poor. Most individuals with PBL die within couple of years of diagnosis
  • With intensive HAART and chemotherapy, several patients have lived longer; however, a full recovery has never been achieved so far

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Plasmablastic Lymphoma:

  • Lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops from the normal cells that are in one’s blood

The following article link will help you understand lymphoma:


What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)
3 International Drive – Suite 200 Rye Brook, NY 10573
Phone: (914) 949-5213
Toll-Free: (800) 955-4572
Fax: (914) 949-6691
Email: infocenter@lls.org
Website: http://www.lls.org

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
U.S. National Institutes of Health
Public Inquiries Office
Building 31, Room 10A03
31 Center Drive, MSC 8322 Bethesda, MD 20892-2580
Phone: (301) 435-3848
Toll-Free: (800) 422-6237
TTY: (800) 332-8615
Email: cancergovstaff@mail.nih.gov
Website: http://www.cancer.gov

American Cancer Society (ACS)
1599 Clifton Road, NE Atlanta, GA 30329-4251
Toll-Free: (800) 227-2345
TTY: (866) 228-4327
Website: http://www.cancer.org

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

http://surgpathcriteria.stanford.edu/bcell/plasmablastic_lymphoma/ (accessed on 4/30/2015)

http://meetinglibrary.asco.org/content/135291-144 (accessed on 4/30/2015)

http://annonc.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/11/1673.full (accessed on 4/30/2015)

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Castillo, J. J., & Reagan, J. L. (2011). Plasmablastic lymphoma: a systematic review. ScientificWorldJournal, 11, 687-696. doi: 10.1100/tsw.2011.59

Heiser, D., Muller, H., Kempf, W., Eisendle, K., &Zelger, B. (2012). Primary cutaneous plasmablastic lymphoma of the lower leg in an HIV-negative patient.J Am AcadDermatol, 67(5), e202-205.doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2012.02.021

Hsi, E. D., Lorsbach, R. B., Fend, F., &Dogan, A. (2011). Plasmablastic lymphoma and related disorders.Am J ClinPathol, 136(2), 183-194. doi: 10.1309/AJCPV1I2QWKZKNJH

Liu, J. J., Zhang, L., Ayala, E., Field, T., Ochoa-Bayona, J. L., Perez, L., . . .Sokol, L. (2011). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-negative plasmablastic lymphoma: a single institutional experience and literature review. Leuk Res, 35(12), 1571-1577. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2011.06.023

Sarode, S. C., Sarode, G. S., &Patil, A. (2010). Plasmablastic lymphoma of the oral cavity: a review. Oral Oncol, 46(3), 146-153. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2009.12.009

Flaitz, C. M., Nichols, C. M., Walling, D. M., & Hicks, M. J. (2002). Plasmablastic lymphoma: an HIV-associated entity with primary oral manifestations. Oral oncology, 38(1), 96-102.

Folk, G. S., Abbondanzo, S. L., Childers, E. L., & Foss, R. D. (2006). Plasmablastic lymphoma: a clinicopathologic correlation. Annals of diagnostic pathology, 10(1), 8-12.

Castillo, J. J., Bibas, M., & Miranda, R. N. (2015). The biology and treatment of plasmablastic lymphoma. Blood125(15), 2323-2330.