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Orbital lymphoma: diagnostic approach and treatment outcome

André M Eckardt*, Juliana Lemound, Majeed Rana and Nils-Claudius Gellrich

Author Affiliations

Department of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Strasse 1, Hannover, 30625, Germany

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World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2013, 11:73  doi:10.1186/1477-7819-11-73

Published: 18 March 2013



Lymphomas of the orbit and orbital adnexae are rare tumors, comprising only 1% of all non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The majority of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas of the orbit are extranodal marginal-zone B-cell lymphomas of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue type. Because of nonspecific clinical signs and symptoms, some diagnostic delay may occur. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the diagnostic approach in orbital lymphomas and to analyze their treatment outcome.


In the period from 2005 to 2012, from a group of 135 patients with tumors of the orbit, we identified 11 patients diagnosed with orbital lymphoma. This patient cohort was reviewed retrospectively.


The patient group consisted of 11 patients (seven females, male males) with a median age of 57.7 years (range 42 to 88 years). Orbital swelling, pain and motility impairment were the leading clinical symptoms. Diagnosis was confirmed by surgical biopsy. Depending on the anatomic location of the tumor, a surgical biopsy was taken using a blepharoplasty incision, a lateral orbitotomy or a navigation-guided biopsy. The predominant histology was extranodal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue type (82%). All patients underwent complete clinical staging. These were clinical stage IEA in seven patients, and stages IIEA (n = 2) and IIIEA (n = 2) in four patients . Patients in stage IEA were treated with radiation therapy alone, with radiation doses between 25 and 40 Gy, and patients with stage IIEA received systemic chemotherapy with bendamustin/rituximab. Those two patients diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma received systemic chemotherapy according to the R-CHOP protocol.


Owing to unspecific clinical symptoms, some diagnostic delay may occur in orbital lymphoma. If unspecific orbital symptoms are present, adequate imaging studies followed by early surgical biopsy will contribute to early diagnosis. Once diagnosis is established and staging is complete, radiation therapy is the recommended treatment for stage IEA patients. Systemic chemotherapy is indicated in selected stage IIEA patients and in patients with stage IIIEA disease.

Orbital lymphoma; Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma; Radiotherapy