Skip to main content

Primary CNS Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version

General Information About Primary CNS Lymphoma

Primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma is defined as lymphoma limited to the cranial-spinal axis without systemic disease. An increasing incidence of this disease has been seen among patients with AIDS and among other immunocompromised persons. Computed tomographic (CT) scans may show ring enhancement in 50% of AIDS patients while patients without AIDS almost always show only homogeneous enhancement.[1] Median overall survival in published trials generally ranges from 2 to 4 years.[2] Older age (>65 years) and HIV positivity are the most clinically relevant poor prognostic factors, but the prognosis for HIV-associated primary CNS lymphoma has improved with the use of combination antiretroviral therapy.[3]

Prognostic Factors

Poor prognostic factors include the following:[4,5]

  • Age older than 60 years.
  • Elevated serum level of lactate dehydrogenase.
  • Elevated cerebrospinal fluid protein concentration.
  • Involvement of nonhemispheric areas of the brain (periventricular, basal ganglia, brainstem, and cerebellum).
  • Intraocular disease and concomitant brain involvement.[6]


When tumor progression occurs, it is usually confined to the CNS and/or the eye. Occult systemic disease can be excluded by staging with bone marrow biopsy and CT or positron emission tomography-CT scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.[7,8]

In one prospective, case series of 282 patients, 17% were found to have meningeal dissemination by cytomorphology, polymerase chain reaction of rearranged immunoglobulin heavy-chain genes, or meningeal enhancement on magnetic resonance imaging.[9]


Although more than 95% of patients with primary CNS lymphoma have lymphoma of B-cell origin, 45 patients with CNS lymphoma of T-cell origin showed no difference in presentation or outcome in a retrospective series with data collected from 12 cancer centers.[10] Almost all primary CNS lymphomas are aggressive neoplasms of the diffuse large B-cell type.

Primary CNS lymphoma closely resembles the activated B-cell subtype of large B-cell lymphoma, with additional mutations in the B-cell receptor signaling pathway. A retrospective case series of 40 patients with low-grade primary CNS lymphoma derived from 18 cancer centers in five countries reported a better long-term outcome (median survival, 7 years) than is associated with the usually aggressive CNS lymphoma.[11][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] Anecdotal cases of primary CNS Hodgkin lymphoma have also been reported.[12]

Related Summaries

Other PDQ summaries containing information related to primary CNS lymphoma include:

  1. Fine HA, Mayer RJ: Primary central nervous system lymphoma. Ann Intern Med 119 (11): 1093-104, 1993. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Grommes C, DeAngelis LM: Primary CNS Lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 35 (21): 2410-2418, 2017. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Gupta NK, Nolan A, Omuro A, et al.: Long-term survival in AIDS-related primary central nervous system lymphoma. Neuro Oncol 19 (1): 99-108, 2017. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Ferreri AJ, Blay JY, Reni M, et al.: Prognostic scoring system for primary CNS lymphomas: the International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group experience. J Clin Oncol 21 (2): 266-72, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Abrey LE, Ben-Porat L, Panageas KS, et al.: Primary central nervous system lymphoma: the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center prognostic model. J Clin Oncol 24 (36): 5711-5, 2006. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Kreher S, Strehlow F, Martus P, et al.: Prognostic impact of intraocular involvement in primary CNS lymphoma: experience from the G-PCNSL-SG1 trial. Ann Hematol 94 (3): 409-14, 2015. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. O'Neill BP, Dinapoli RP, Kurtin PJ, et al.: Occult systemic non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in patients initially diagnosed as primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL): how much staging is enough? J Neurooncol 25 (1): 67-71, 1995. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Abrey LE, Batchelor TT, Ferreri AJ, et al.: Report of an international workshop to standardize baseline evaluation and response criteria for primary CNS lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 23 (22): 5034-43, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Fischer L, Martus P, Weller M, et al.: Meningeal dissemination in primary CNS lymphoma: prospective evaluation of 282 patients. Neurology 71 (14): 1102-8, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Shenkier TN, Blay JY, O'Neill BP, et al.: Primary CNS lymphoma of T-cell origin: a descriptive analysis from the international primary CNS lymphoma collaborative group. J Clin Oncol 23 (10): 2233-9, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
  11. Jahnke K, Korfel A, O'Neill BP, et al.: International study on low-grade primary central nervous system lymphoma. Ann Neurol 59 (5): 755-62, 2006. [PUBMED Abstract]
  12. Gerstner ER, Abrey LE, Schiff D, et al.: CNS Hodgkin lymphoma. Blood 112 (5): 1658-61, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]

Treatment Option Overview for Primary CNS Lymphoma

Radiation Therapy

Because of the diffuse nature of central nervous system (CNS) lymphomas, aggressive surgical decompression with partial or gross total removal of the tumor is of no benefit to the patient. Median survival with surgery alone is in the range of only 1 to 5 months. Until the mid-1990s, radiation therapy had been the standard treatment, with doses of up to 45 Gy using standard fractionation. A prospective trial by the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG-8315) used 40 Gy whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) and a 20 Gy boost to the tumor and found that the results were no better than had been previously reported with a median survival of 1 year and 28% of the patients surviving 2 years.[1,2] Disease recurs in the brain in 92% of patients despite high doses of radiation. The addition of spinal-axis radiation does not affect survival because it does not prevent cerebral relapse.

Combined Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Two multicenter, prospective trials (including RTOG-8806) used preirradiation cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and dexamethasone followed by WBRT.[3,4] Median survival times were no better than for radiation therapy alone. The failure of these and other combined modality trials has been attributed to poor penetration of standard drugs through the blood-brain barrier and to increased neurologic toxic effects. Retrospective reviews suggested improved results with the use of high-dose methotrexate or cytarabine with radiation therapy rather than with other combination regimens.[5,6] While combinations of high-dose methotrexate with WBRT improved progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) anecdotally in patients participating in phase II trials, there was unacceptable neurologic toxicity.[7-10]

Chemotherapy Alone

Trials using chemotherapy alone were justified because of the unsatisfactory results using WBRT alone, and the neurologic toxic effects seen using chemotherapy combined with WBRT. Numerous phase I and phase II studies over two decades established the following active drugs for induction therapy or for treating relapsing disease. These drugs have been used as single agents and in combinations.

  • High-dose methotrexate.[5,6,11-14]
  • High-dose cytarabine.[13-15]
  • Rituximab.[15-17]
  • Thiotepa.[17,18]
  • Ibrutinib.[19]
  • Lenalidomide.[20,21]
  • Pomalidomide.[22]
  • Nivolumab.[23]

Severe delayed neurologic toxic effects were rarely seen in chemotherapy-only trials in the absence of subsequent radiation therapy. However, salvage radiation can be applied for relapsed or refractory disease, sometimes at reduced dosage.[24,25]

The International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group investigated three different induction combinations in 227 patients with newly-diagnosed HIV-negative primary CNS lymphoma who were randomly assigned to one of three groups:[17]

  • High-dose methotrexate + high-dose cytarabine.
  • High-dose methotrexate + high-dose cytarabine + rituximab.
  • High-dose methotrexate + high-dose cytarabine + rituximab + thiotepa (the MATRix regimen).

With a median follow-up of 30 months, the four-drug combination had a complete remission rate of 49% (95% confidence interval (CI), 38‒60) compared with 23% (interquartile range [IQR], 14‒31) for the two-drug combination (hazard ratio [HR], 0.46; 95% CI, 0.28‒0.74) and with 30% (IQR, 21‒42) for the three-drug combination (HR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.40‒0.94).[17][Level of evidence: 1iiDiv]

In a randomized, nonblinded, multicenter trial, 79 patients were randomly assigned to high-dose methotrexate versus high-dose methotrexate plus cytarabine.[26] While 3-year PFS was better for the two-drug regimen (HR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.31–0.92; P = .01), there was no difference in 3-year OS (46% for the two-drug regimen vs. 32% for the one-drug regimen; HR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.38–1.13; P = .07).[26][Level of evidence: 1iiDiii]

The so-called DA-TEDDI-R regimen incorporates temozolomide, etoposide, liposomal doxorubicin, dexamethasone, ibrutinib, and rituximab.[27][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] Among 18 patients (five previously untreated), the complete remission rate was 86%, but high rates (39%) of invasive aspergillosis were reported.

Further randomized trials are needed to establish the optimal chemotherapy combination for induction therapy. The optimal length for induction therapy, the use of maintenance therapy, and the use of consolidation therapy are all areas of controversy that await further trial results.

Consolidation After Induction Chemotherapy

Several phase II studies have investigated consolidation with intensive chemotherapy supported by autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT).[18,28-34] This approach is most applicable for younger patients with few comorbidities and good performance status, who also respond well to induction therapy.

Several prospective randomized trials are comparing or have compared the value of WBRT and the value of ASCT as consolidation after high-dose methotrexate induction therapy: International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group 32 (IELSC32 [NCT01011920]), Pragmatic–Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary (PRECIS [NCT00863460]), Cancer and Lymphoma Group B/Alliance (CALGB 51101 [NCT01511562]), and International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group 43 (IELSG43 [NCT02531841]).[30]

In a prospective, randomized trial of 551 immunocompetent patients with newly diagnosed primary CNS lymphoma, all patients received induction chemotherapy with six cycles of high-dose methotrexate (4 g/m2) with or without ifosfamide.[35] Upon completion of chemotherapy, responders were randomly assigned to WBRT (45 Gy) or to no treatment for complete response patients and cytarabine for partial response patients. There was no statistical difference in median OS with 32.4 months for patients receiving radiation therapy versus 37.1 months for those not receiving radiation (HR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.80–1.40; P = .71).[35][Level of evidence: 1iiA] Treatment-related neurotoxic effects were significantly worse on the radiation therapy arm, and such toxicity must be weighed against the possibility that the survival from chemotherapy alone may be marginally inferior to the survival when radiation is added.

In a prospective randomized trial of 410 immunocompetent patients with newly diagnosed primary CNS lymphoma, all patients were scheduled to receive high-dose methotrexate and randomly assigned to receive WBRT or no radiation. In the intent-to-treat population, WBRT was associated with a prolongation of PFS at 15.4 months versus 9.9 months (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.64–0.98; P = .034), but no difference in OS at 32.4 months versus 36.1 months (HR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.79–1.26; P = .98). However, the study lacked the power to exclude a benefit or harm from the WBRT.[36][Level of evidence: 1iiDiii] In this study, 19 patients were diagnosed with intraocular involvement at diagnosis; intraocular lymphoma was an independent negative prognostic indicator.[37]

Intraocular Lymphoma

An international consortium performed a retrospective review of 83 HIV-negative patients with primary intraocular lymphoma.[38] In selected patients with no evidence of disseminated CNS disease, localized therapy with intraocular methotrexate or ocular radiation therapy is associated with equivalent outcomes seen with systemic chemotherapy and/or WBRT. Localized therapy with intraocular methotrexate or ocular radiation therapy did not affect relapse rate, median PFS, or median OS compared with systemic chemotherapy and WBRT.[38][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] Patients with intraocular disease and concomitant brain involvement had a worse prognosis than those with brain involvement alone (19 patients with both, 391 patients with brain involvement only).[36]

Current Clinical Trials

Use our advanced clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are now enrolling patients. The search can be narrowed by location of the trial, type of treatment, name of the drug, and other criteria. General information about clinical trials is also available.

  1. Pollack IF, Lunsford LD, Flickinger JC, et al.: Prognostic factors in the diagnosis and treatment of primary central nervous system lymphoma. Cancer 63 (5): 939-47, 1989. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Nelson DF, Martz KL, Bonner H, et al.: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the brain: can high dose, large volume radiation therapy improve survival? Report on a prospective trial by the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG): RTOG 8315. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 23 (1): 9-17, 1992. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. O'Neill BP, O'Fallon JR, Earle JD, et al.: Primary central nervous system non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: survival advantages with combined initial therapy? Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 33 (3): 663-73, 1995. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Schultz C, Scott C, Sherman W, et al.: Preirradiation chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and dexamethasone for primary CNS lymphomas: initial report of radiation therapy oncology group protocol 88-06. J Clin Oncol 14 (2): 556-64, 1996. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Gavrilovic IT, Hormigo A, Yahalom J, et al.: Long-term follow-up of high-dose methotrexate-based therapy with and without whole brain irradiation for newly diagnosed primary CNS lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 24 (28): 4570-4, 2006. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Blay JY, Conroy T, Chevreau C, et al.: High-dose methotrexate for the treatment of primary cerebral lymphomas: analysis of survival and late neurologic toxicity in a retrospective series. J Clin Oncol 16 (3): 864-71, 1998. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Fisher B, Seiferheld W, Schultz C, et al.: Secondary analysis of Radiation Therapy Oncology Group study (RTOG) 9310: an intergroup phase II combined modality treatment of primary central nervous system lymphoma. J Neurooncol 74 (2): 201-5, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. DeAngelis LM, Seiferheld W, Schold SC, et al.: Combination chemotherapy and radiotherapy for primary central nervous system lymphoma: Radiation Therapy Oncology Group Study 93-10. J Clin Oncol 20 (24): 4643-8, 2002. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Poortmans PM, Kluin-Nelemans HC, Haaxma-Reiche H, et al.: High-dose methotrexate-based chemotherapy followed by consolidating radiotherapy in non-AIDS-related primary central nervous system lymphoma: European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Lymphoma Group Phase II Trial 20962. J Clin Oncol 21 (24): 4483-8, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Ekenel M, Iwamoto FM, Ben-Porat LS, et al.: Primary central nervous system lymphoma: the role of consolidation treatment after a complete response to high-dose methotrexate-based chemotherapy. Cancer 113 (5): 1025-31, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]
  11. Batchelor T, Carson K, O'Neill A, et al.: Treatment of primary CNS lymphoma with methotrexate and deferred radiotherapy: a report of NABTT 96-07. J Clin Oncol 21 (6): 1044-9, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
  12. Hoang-Xuan K, Taillandier L, Chinot O, et al.: Chemotherapy alone as initial treatment for primary CNS lymphoma in patients older than 60 years: a multicenter phase II study (26952) of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Brain Tumor Group. J Clin Oncol 21 (14): 2726-31, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
  13. Pels H, Schmidt-Wolf IG, Glasmacher A, et al.: Primary central nervous system lymphoma: results of a pilot and phase II study of systemic and intraventricular chemotherapy with deferred radiotherapy. J Clin Oncol 21 (24): 4489-95, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
  14. Juergens A, Pels H, Rogowski S, et al.: Long-term survival with favorable cognitive outcome after chemotherapy in primary central nervous system lymphoma. Ann Neurol 67 (2): 182-9, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]
  15. Chen YB, Batchelor T, Li S, et al.: Phase 2 trial of high-dose rituximab with high-dose cytarabine mobilization therapy and high-dose thiotepa, busulfan, and cyclophosphamide autologous stem cell transplantation in patients with central nervous system involvement by non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer 121 (2): 226-33, 2015. [PUBMED Abstract]
  16. Mocikova H, Pytlik R, Sykorova A, et al.: Role of rituximab in treatment of patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma: a retrospective analysis of the Czech lymphoma study group registry. Leuk Lymphoma 57 (12): 2777-2783, 2016. [PUBMED Abstract]
  17. Ferreri AJ, Cwynarski K, Pulczynski E, et al.: Chemoimmunotherapy with methotrexate, cytarabine, thiotepa, and rituximab (MATRix regimen) in patients with primary CNS lymphoma: results of the first randomisation of the International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group-32 (IELSG32) phase 2 trial. Lancet Haematol 3 (5): e217-27, 2016. [PUBMED Abstract]
  18. Schorb E, Fox CP, Fritsch K, et al.: High-dose thiotepa-based chemotherapy with autologous stem cell support in elderly patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma: a European retrospective study. Bone Marrow Transplant 52 (8): 1113-1119, 2017. [PUBMED Abstract]
  19. Illerhaus G, Schorb E, Kasenda B: Novel agents for primary central nervous system lymphoma: evidence and perspectives. Blood 132 (7): 681-688, 2018. [PUBMED Abstract]
  20. Tun HW, Johnston PB, DeAngelis LM, et al.: Phase 1 study of pomalidomide and dexamethasone for relapsed/refractory primary CNS or vitreoretinal lymphoma. Blood 132 (21): 2240-2248, 2018. [PUBMED Abstract]
  21. Houillier C, Choquet S, Touitou V, et al.: Lenalidomide monotherapy as salvage treatment for recurrent primary CNS lymphoma. Neurology 84 (3): 325-6, 2015. [PUBMED Abstract]
  22. Grommes C, Tang SS, Wolfe J, et al.: Phase 1b trial of an ibrutinib-based combination therapy in recurrent/refractory CNS lymphoma. Blood 133 (5): 436-445, 2019. [PUBMED Abstract]
  23. Nayak L, Iwamoto FM, LaCasce A, et al.: PD-1 blockade with nivolumab in relapsed/refractory primary central nervous system and testicular lymphoma. Blood 129 (23): 3071-3073, 2017. [PUBMED Abstract]
  24. Khimani NB, Ng AK, Chen YH, et al.: Salvage radiotherapy in patients with recurrent or refractory primary or secondary central nervous system lymphoma after methotrexate-based chemotherapy. Ann Oncol 22 (4): 979-84, 2011. [PUBMED Abstract]
  25. Shah GD, Yahalom J, Correa DD, et al.: Combined immunochemotherapy with reduced whole-brain radiotherapy for newly diagnosed primary CNS lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 25 (30): 4730-5, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  26. Ferreri AJ, Reni M, Foppoli M, et al.: High-dose cytarabine plus high-dose methotrexate versus high-dose methotrexate alone in patients with primary CNS lymphoma: a randomised phase 2 trial. Lancet 374 (9700): 1512-20, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]
  27. Lionakis MS, Dunleavy K, Roschewski M, et al.: Inhibition of B Cell Receptor Signaling by Ibrutinib in Primary CNS Lymphoma. Cancer Cell 31 (6): 833-843.e5, 2017. [PUBMED Abstract]
  28. Illerhaus G, Kasenda B, Ihorst G, et al.: High-dose chemotherapy with autologous haemopoietic stem cell transplantation for newly diagnosed primary CNS lymphoma: a prospective, single-arm, phase 2 trial. Lancet Haematol 3 (8): e388-97, 2016. [PUBMED Abstract]
  29. Kasenda B, Schorb E, Fritsch K, et al.: Prognosis after high-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous stem-cell transplantation as first-line treatment in primary CNS lymphoma--a long-term follow-up study. Ann Oncol 23 (10): 2670-5, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  30. Ferreri AJ, Illerhaus G: The role of autologous stem cell transplantation in primary central nervous system lymphoma. Blood 127 (13): 1642-9, 2016. [PUBMED Abstract]
  31. Rubenstein JL, Hsi ED, Johnson JL, et al.: Intensive chemotherapy and immunotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed primary CNS lymphoma: CALGB 50202 (Alliance 50202). J Clin Oncol 31 (25): 3061-8, 2013. [PUBMED Abstract]
  32. Omuro A, Correa DD, DeAngelis LM, et al.: R-MPV followed by high-dose chemotherapy with TBC and autologous stem-cell transplant for newly diagnosed primary CNS lymphoma. Blood 125 (9): 1403-10, 2015. [PUBMED Abstract]
  33. DeFilipp Z, Li S, El-Jawahri A, et al.: High-dose chemotherapy with thiotepa, busulfan, and cyclophosphamide and autologous stem cell transplantation for patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma in first complete remission. Cancer 123 (16): 3073-3079, 2017. [PUBMED Abstract]
  34. Houillier C, Taillandier L, Dureau S, et al.: Radiotherapy or Autologous Stem-Cell Transplantation for Primary CNS Lymphoma in Patients 60 Years of Age and Younger: Results of the Intergroup ANOCEF-GOELAMS Randomized Phase II PRECIS Study. J Clin Oncol 37 (10): 823-833, 2019. [PUBMED Abstract]
  35. Thiel E, Korfel A, Martus P, et al.: High-dose methotrexate with or without whole brain radiotherapy for primary CNS lymphoma (G-PCNSL-SG-1): a phase 3, randomised, non-inferiority trial. Lancet Oncol 11 (11): 1036-47, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]
  36. Korfel A, Thiel E, Martus P, et al.: Randomized phase III study of whole-brain radiotherapy for primary CNS lymphoma. Neurology 84 (12): 1242-8, 2015. [PUBMED Abstract]
  37. Kreher S, Strehlow F, Martus P, et al.: Prognostic impact of intraocular involvement in primary CNS lymphoma: experience from the G-PCNSL-SG1 trial. Ann Hematol 94 (3): 409-14, 2015. [PUBMED Abstract]
  38. Grimm SA, Pulido JS, Jahnke K, et al.: Primary intraocular lymphoma: an International Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma Collaborative Group Report. Ann Oncol 18 (11): 1851-5, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]

Key References for Primary CNS Lymphoma Treatment

These references have been identified by members of the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board as significant in the field of primary CNS lymphoma treatment. This list is provided to inform users of important studies that have helped shape the current understanding of and treatment options for primary CNS lymphoma. Listed after each reference are the sections within this summary where the reference is cited.

Changes to This Summary (05/24/2019)

The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

This summary was extensively revised.

This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ® - NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.

About This PDQ Summary

Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of primary CNS lymphoma. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.

Reviewers and Updates

This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Board members review recently published articles each month to determine whether an article should:

  • be discussed at a meeting,
  • be cited with text, or
  • replace or update an existing article that is already cited.

Changes to the summaries are made through a consensus process in which Board members evaluate the strength of the evidence in the published articles and determine how the article should be included in the summary.

The lead reviewers for Primary CNS Lymphoma Treatment are:

  • Andrew S. Chi, MD, PhD (New York University Medical Center)
  • Eric J. Seifter, MD (Johns Hopkins University)

Any comments or questions about the summary content should be submitted to through the NCI website's Email Us. Do not contact the individual Board Members with questions or comments about the summaries. Board members will not respond to individual inquiries.

Levels of Evidence

Some of the reference citations in this summary are accompanied by a level-of-evidence designation. These designations are intended to help readers assess the strength of the evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. The PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board uses a formal evidence ranking system in developing its level-of-evidence designations.

Permission to Use This Summary

PDQ is a registered trademark. Although the content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text, it cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless it is presented in its entirety and is regularly updated. However, an author would be permitted to write a sentence such as “NCI’s PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks succinctly: [include excerpt from the summary].”

The preferred citation for this PDQ summary is:

PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Primary CNS Lymphoma Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>. [PMID: 26389331]

Images in this summary are used with permission of the author(s), artist, and/or publisher for use within the PDQ summaries only. Permission to use images outside the context of PDQ information must be obtained from the owner(s) and cannot be granted by the National Cancer Institute. Information about using the illustrations in this summary, along with many other cancer-related images, is available in Visuals Online, a collection of over 2,000 scientific images.


Based on the strength of the available evidence, treatment options may be described as either “standard” or “under clinical evaluation.” These classifications should not be used as a basis for insurance reimbursement determinations. More information on insurance coverage is available on on the Managing Cancer Care page.

Contact Us

More information about contacting us or receiving help with the website can be found on our Contact Us for Help page. Questions can also be submitted to through the website’s Email Us.

  • Updated:

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “Primary CNS Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”