Advances in the treatment of extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma, nasal type

Motoko Yamaguchi, Ritsuro Suzuki and Masahiko Oguchi


Extranodal natural killer/T-cell lymphoma, nasal type (ENKL) is a subtype of mature T- and NK-cell lymphomas characterized by its association with Epstein-Barr virus and extranodal involvement. Although there is geographic variance in the frequency of ENKL, its clinical features are similar between Western countries and endemic areas, such as East Asia. Anthracycline-containing chemotherapy is not recommended to treat ENKL. No standard treatment has been established based on the results of randomized controlled trials. In patients with localized disease, radiotherapy is a core component of the recommended first-line therapy. Radiotherapy administered at 50-54 Gy, extended involved-site radiotherapy considering tumor invasiveness, and the use of intensity modulated radiation therapy or volumetric modulated arc therapy are associated with efficacy of radiotherapy. Although the use of concurrent chemoradiotherapy has been supported by the results of clinical trials, accumulating evidence supports the use of sequential chemoradiotherapy with non-anthracycline-containing regimens that include L-asparaginase and/or platinum anticancer agents. L-asparaginase-containing chemotherapy is a key component of first-line treatments for systemic ENKL. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is recommended as a front-line consolidation therapy for newly diagnosed advanced-stage ENKL. Newer agents including immune checkpoint inhibitors are being investigated for treating ENKL. In this modern ENKL treatment era, multidisciplinary efforts are needed to identify the best timing and sequencing of radiotherapy, L-asparaginase, platinum, newer agents, and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

  • Submitted December 26, 2017.
  • Accepted March 29, 2018.