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Clinical and laboratory characteristics of systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma in Chinese patients

Yan-Fang Wang1, Yan-Li Yang1, Zi-Fen Gao2, Chun-Ju Zhou3, Xylina Gregg4, Yun-Fei Shi2, Jing Wang1, Xiao-Feng Yang5 and Xiao-Yan Ke1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Hematology and Lymphoma Research Center, Peking University, Third Hospital, Beijing, P. R, 100191, China

2 Department of Pathology, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, P. R., 100191, China

3 Department of Pathology, Beijing Children’s Hospital, Beijing, P. R., 100045, China

4 Utah Cancer Specialists, Salt Lake City, UT, 84106, U.S.A

5 Department of Pharmacology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, 19140, U.S.A

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Journal of Hematology & Oncology 2012, 5:38  doi:10.1186/1756-8722-5-38

Published: 7 July 2012



Systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (S-ALCL) is a rare disease with a highly variable prognosis and no standard chemotherapy regimen. Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) has been reported as an important prognostic factor correlated with S-ALCL in many but not all studies. In our study, we retrospectively analyzed 92 patients with S-ALCL from the Peking University Lymphoma Center for clinical and molecular prognostic factors to make clear the role of ALK and other prognostic factors in Han Chinese S-ALCL.


The majority of Chinese S-ALCL patients were young male patients (median age 26, male/female ratio 1.7) and the median age was younger than previous reports regardless of ALK expression status. The only statistically significant different clinical characteristic in S-ALCL between ALK positive (ALK+) and ALK negative (ALK-) was age, with a younger median age of 22 for ALK+ compared with 30 for ALK-. However, when pediatric patients (≤18) were excluded, there was no age difference between ALK+ and ALK-. The groups did not differ in the proportion of males, those with clinical stage III/IV (49 vs 51%) or those with extranodal disease (53 vs 59%). Of 73 evaluable patients, the 3-year and 5-year survival rates were 60% and 47%, respectively. Univariate analysis showed that three factors: advanced stage III/IV, lack of expression of ALK, and high Ki-67 expression, were associated with treatment failure in patients with S-ALCL. However, ALK expression correlated with improved survival only in patients younger than 14 years, while not in adult patients. In multivariate analysis, only clinical stage was an independent prognostic factor for survival. Expressions of Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) and B-cell lymphoma 2 protein (BCL-2) correlated with the expression of ALK, but they did not have prognostic significance. High Ki-67 expression was also a poor prognostic factor.


Our results show that ALK expression alone is not sufficient to determine the outcome of ALCL and other prognostic factors must be considered. Clinical stage is an independent prognostic factor. Ki-67 expression is a promising prognostic factor.

Systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma; Prognosis; Anaplastic lymphoma kinase; Ki-67; BCL-2; WT1