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Primary non-Hodgkin lymphoma of the tongue base: the clinicopathology of seven cases and evaluation of HPV and EBV status.



Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) primarily derived from the base of the tongue, is rare. Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are important aetiological risk factors for tumours of the head and neck. This study describes the clinicopathological features of NHL in the tongue base and the status of HPV and EBV in these cases.


Seven cases were identified from the Pathological Registry Database at Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH). The study utilized immunochemistry, in situ hybridization (ISH), and gene rearrangement to confirm the disease and and performed a clinical follow up for each case.


All 7 lymphomas were localized at the base of the tongue. Six of the cases exhibited tongue base masses with smooth surface membranes. One case presented as multiple deep ulcers. The most common histologic subtype was diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), which occurred in five cases. The other two cases were mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and peripheral T cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified (PTCL, NOS). One of the DLBCL cases was positive for HPV DNA and diffusely expressed P16 protein. During the follow up period, the MCL patient and an elderly DLBCL patient died. The remaining five patients were alive through the end of follow up.


Most lymphomas of the tongue base manifest as an endogenous mass without membranous change. The most common subtype of NHLs of the tongue base is DLBCL, and the occurrence at this site may have a good prognosis. With proper therapy, even late stage tongue base lymphomas can be suppressed and remain in remission.

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