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MYC and Aggressive B-cell Lymphomas

Slack, Graham W. MD; Gascoyne, Randy D. MD

Advances in Anatomic Pathology: May 2011 - Volume 18 - Issue 3 - p 219–228
doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e3182169948
Review Articles

Rearrangement of the proto-oncogene MYC leads to MYC protein deregulation and is an important driver of oncogenic transformation. MYC rearrangement is a recurring genetic abnormality in several aggressive B-cell lymphomas including: Burkitt lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; B-cell lymphoma, unclassifiable with features intermediate between diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and Burkitt lymphoma; rare de novo acute lymphoblastic lymphoma/leukemia, transformed follicular lymphoma, and plasmablastic lymphoma. Important distinctions in the role of MYC in these tumors likely reflect whether it is a primary or secondary genetic event. The presence of a MYC rearrangement in these diseases has diagnostic and prognostic implications and it is important for the practicing anatomic pathologist to be familiar with these issues when diagnosing aggressive B-cell lymphomas. This review provides a brief overview of MYC biology; shows the clinical and pathologic features of the aggressive B-cell lymphomas that harbor recurrent MYC rearrangements; explores the diagnostic and clinical implications of MYC rearrangements in these diseases; and outlines the techniques available to the anatomic pathologist to detect MYC deregulation.

British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Reprints: Graham W. Slack, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, British Columbia Cancer Agency, 600 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4E6, Canada (e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.