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Blastic Natural Killer Cell Lymphoma/Leukemia
A Report of Seven Cases

Michael G. Bayerl MD, Christiane K. Rakozy MD, Anwar N. Mohamed MD, Trieu D. Vo PhD, Michael Long PhD, David Eilender MD, Margarita Palutke MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/UUXV-YRL8-GXP7-HR4H 41-50 First published online: 1 January 2002


Only a few blastic natural killer (NK) cell leukemias and lymphomas have been reported. As such, the clinicopathologic spectrum of this disease is incompletely understood.

We report 7 cases of blastic NK cell lymphoma/leukemia. All patients were men, 5 white and 2 Arab American. All cases exhibited blastic morphologic features and were CD3– and CD56+ with germline T-cell receptor genes. Five cases were CD4+ and involved the skin. Both CD4– cases never involved the skin. Other markers of mature NK cells such as CD16, CD57, and TIA-1 were expressed infrequently. Three cases were CD33+. One CD33+ case had a clonal rearrangement of the immunoglobulin heavy chain gene.

Skin and lymph nodes were involved most often, with frequent evolution to a leukemic phase. Initial responses to therapy were achieved in most patients, but the tumors invariably recurred.

Key Words:
  • Natural killer cells
  • CD4
  • CD33
  • CD56
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Skin
  • Immunophenotype
  • Cytogenetics