Although non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is a frequent cancer worldwide, primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma (PCNSL) is a rare presentation, with an incidence of less than 0.5 per 100,000 persons-years in the western world. In the vast majority of cases, it has the histology of a diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and is a hardly curable disease with high relapse risk. Therapeutic options are limited by blood-brain barrier penetration of drugs and because of its low-incidence high-grade evidence from large studies is lacking, current management being based on reports on rather small cohorts. The current standard first-line treatment for PCNSL consists of high-dose methotrexate (HD-MTX) in combination with a variety of drugs and consolidation whole-brain radiotherapy, the latter being progressively replaced by chemotherapy. For patients relapsing after first-line treatment, intensive chemotherapy with autologous stem cell support is a feasible and relatively safe salvage therapy. In the present chapter, we briefly discuss primary central nervous system lymphoma management and review current therapeutic options and evidence-based recommendations. We discuss the role of whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) and new prospects to avoid this side effect-ridden approach. Also, we will look at new therapeutic approaches currently under investigation, including immunotherapy.
Part of the book: New Approaches to the Management of Primary and Secondary CNS Tumors