Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is well known for its aetiological role in chronic non-A, non-B viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma; in addition, the virus has also been implicated in a number of extra-hepatic “autoimmune” disease manifestations. A causative association between HCV and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) was postulated relatively recently and has been the subject of intense investigation, as well as some debate. On the strength of epidemiological data, emerging biological investigations and clinical observations, HCV appears to be involved in the pathogenesis of at least a proportion of patients with NHL. Morphologically, HCV-associated lymphomas represent a variety of histological subtypes including marginal zone lymphoma (splenic, nodal and extranodal), small lymphocytic lymphoma/chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Remarkably, some HCV-associated NHL appears to be highly responsive to antiviral therapy, providing some clinical evidence for this relationship, as well as the prospect for novel therapeutic intervention.
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Competing interests: None declared.
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