Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCL) is more frequently encountered by neurosurgeons given the increasing incidence among both nonimmunocompromised and immunocompromised patients. The most frequent surgery is stereotactic biopsy. Historically, radiation therapy has been the standard treatment modality for this disease and median survival was in the 15-month range. More recently, multi-modality therapy combining radiation therapy with chemotherapy (systemic, intrathecal, and/or intra-arterial) have resulted in longer survivals. We reviewed survival data for our series of patients treated for PCL over the last decade.
Thirty-four patients with histologically confirmed PCL were treated at our center. Multivariate Cox regression analysis was performed to determine which factor(s) (age, gender, HIV status, Karnofsky Performance Scale, chemotherapy, single modality therapy, histology, location, number of lesions, surgical resection) had a significant impact on survival.
The overall median survival was 19 months. Patients receiving multi-modality therapy (n=17) (chemotherapy and radiation) had a median survival of 34 months compared to four months for patients receiving single modality therapy (n=17 including seven HIV positive patients). Multi-modality therapy was the only significant factor affecting survival in this multivariate analysis (p<0.0001).
Chemotherapy plus radiotherapy significantly enhances survival over patients treated with single modality therapy alone. Quality of life issues should be addressed on a case by case basis as additional treatment modalities are initiated.