Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is a cancer of B cells, a type of white blood cell responsible for producing antibodies. It is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma among adults, with an annual incidence of 7-8 cases per 100,000 people per year. This cancer occurs primarily in older individuals, with a median age at diagnosis around 70 years of age, though it can also occur in children and young adults in rare cases. DLBCL is an aggressive tumour which can arise in virtually any part of the body, and the first sign of this illness is typically the observation of a rapidly growing mass, sometimes with associated fever, weight loss, and night sweats.
The causes of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma are not well understood. Usually DLBCL arises from normal B cells, but it can also represent a transformation of other types of lymphoma or leukaemia. An underlying immunodeficiency, such as AIDS, is a significant risk factor. Infection with Epstein-Barr virus has also been found to contribute to the development of some subgroups of DLBCL.
Diagnosis of DLBCL is made by removing a portion of the tumour through a biopsy, and then examining this tissue using a microscope. Usually an experienced hematopathologist makes this diagnosis. Several subtypes of DLBCL have been identified, each having a different clinical presentation and prognosis. However the usual treatment for each of these is chemotherapy, often in combination with an antibody targeted at the tumour cells. Through these treatments, more than half of patients with DLBCL can be cured, and overall survival for older adults is at five years is around 58%.
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