Introduction: This review was produced from the workshop on primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 13) in Paris in 2005. It covers the presentation and biological features of the disease (Professor Khe Hoang-Xuan). The role of chemotherapy, including the management of intraocular lymphoma and the use of high dose chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation for PCNSL, is discussed (Dr. Andres Ferreri) as well as controversies in the use of whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) after chemotherapy (Dr. Michele Reni). The topics covered with discussants at the workshop are also summarised. Conclusion: The imaging of the brain and the histopathology including detailed immunohistochemistry is of vital importance in making an accurate diagnosis of the disease and understanding the extent of spread of the disease in the CNS. The importance of high dose methotrexate (HDMTX; dose ≥1 g/m2), as the most active drug in the treatment of PCNSL, is stressed. The authors recommend that HDMTX alone or in combination with other active chemotherapy agents should be used to treat PCNSL followed by whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) unless contraindicated because of the advanced age of the patient and existing cognitive impairment. Only published protocols should be used unless the patient is to be offered a trial that has either national or international support. Baseline neuropsychological tests should be carried out before treatment and repeated during and after treatment. The risks of cognitive impairment associated with the disease, with methotrexate - containing chemotherapy and with whole brain radiotherapy should be explained to patients and relatives when obtaining informed consent. Long-term survival, with current treatment regimes, is possible with PCNSL but this appears limited to patients less than 60 years of age at presentation (mostly patients less than 50 years of age). © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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