Aims Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)-positive diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) of the elderly is characterised by frequent extranodal involvement, a morphological spectrum from polymorphous to monomorphous and a poor prognosis. The frequency is higher in Japan and Korea but lower in the West, while the status in Taiwan has not been reported yet.
Methods We conducted a retrospective study of DLBCL in a single institute in Taiwan by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridisation for EBV.
Results Of the 424 consecutive DLBCL cases, 332 cases were studied for EBV. 15 (4.5%) were EBV-positive and 13 (3.9%) fulfil WHO criteria of EBV-positive DLBCL of the elderly with a median age of 75. Of these 15 cases, extranodal presentation occurred in 11 (73%) patients with predominance in the gastrointestinal tract and 6 (40%) were of germinal centre B cell phenotype. There was no difference between EBV-positive and -negative patients in terms of age, gender, nodal versus extranodal presentation, and immunophenotypical profile. EBV-positive patients showed a trend for a shorter median survival time (5.0 vs 39.3 months; p=0.058). Of all DLBCL patients, multivariable analysis revealed a significantly worse overall survival for patients older than 50 (p=0.001) and for those with bcl-6-negative tumours (p=0.003) but not with other clinicopathological factors including EBV status.
Conclusions EBV-positive DLBCL of the elderly is relatively rare in Taiwan, with an incidence intermediate between Japan/Korea and the West. Further studies are warranted to clarify the association of EBV and the clinicopathological features and the prognostic significance in patients with DLBCL.