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Primary Bone Lymphoma, anyone?

PBL
Posts: 190
Joined: Jul 2016

Hi all,

I have Primary Bone Lymphoma, which is deemed a rather rare occurence of lymphoma. My variety is Follicular (indolent), which is even further off the charts (the "usual" type of PBL is DLBCL (aggressive)). Specific information is hard to come by... So I would love to find other folks with PBL, who would be willing to share their experience.

I was diagnosed with PBL a year ago, after years of unexplained bone pain and a spontaneous fracture in late June 2015.

I am being treated at a teaching hospital which has over 300 lymphoma patients a year, and "maybe one PBL a year", to quote the rheumatologist who diagnosed me.

I am currently in remission, on maintenance Rituxan (every 8 weeks for two years) after 6 R-CHOP21 (last infusion, mid-June 2016).

I have just had a most unpleasant and disturbing experience, which sparked a question to which I cannot seem to find an answer (not even the rheumatologist could tell!): in the event of a recurrence, will it be more of the same, i.e. new bone pain, fracture, etc.? What would be sure signs that it's time to make an appointment with the hematologist?

Thanks for any input.

PBL

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3363
Joined: May 2012

PBL,

Your case is about as unusual as I have read, but our unofficial Rare Cancers person here, Po18Guy, might be able to mention some specialists or Rare Cancers Centers to you.  He is expert with T-cell diseases and Stem Cell transplantation issues, among others, but might have heard of someone who can direct you.  Send him an email to grab his attention; I'm pretty sure he won't mind me mentioning him.

I do recall a few Bone-Primary patients here, but do not recall whether their's was indolent or the conventional aggressive strains. I hope the write you also.

max

PBL
Posts: 190
Joined: Jul 2016

I will follow your advice and send a message to Po18Guy and hope for some answers.

I am grateful for your prompt response, which already helps somehow.

PBL

po18guy
Posts: 1041
Joined: Nov 2011

I am a T-Cell guy, but may know a little about other forms. Sorry to hear of your concern, but very happy to hear of your remission. Lymphoma may both occur and relapse anywhere in your body, so standard vigilance and monitoring would be appropriate. It sounds as though it was in your marrow and may have migrated to, or invaded the bone? Did they consider radiation at all? As to maintenance Rituxan (a 'monoclonal antibody' drug), you have an option now if the lymphoma finds its way around the Rituxan. There is a more potent monoclonal antibody available: Ofatumumab (Arzerra). It is labelled for chronic lmymphocytic leukemia (CLL), but is now in trials for lymphomas.

It eliiminates more B-Cells than Rituxan, for a longer period of time, and eliminates those B-Cells which have a much lower surface expression of the protein CD20, which is the target of Rituxan. I have just recently received it in a clinical trial against Graft-Versus-Host-Disease, associated with allogeneic stem cell transplants. 

If your follicular was limted to the bone (and it may have been), there is the potential that you will be in a very long-term remission - perhaps even for life. In the case of an inolent lymphoma, this is a true blessing. Praying that it does not relapse, but you have options if it ever does. As to the rarity of its presentation, the type of lymphoma is much more important than where it presented itself.

PBL
Posts: 190
Joined: Jul 2016

Radiation was not an option, as the tumor basically extended in all of my left pelvis, from the pubic bone (where the fracture occured) to the ischiatic bone, all of the hip socket and up the iliac crest. Radiation would have caused too much damage to my descending colon and bladder.

What prompted the question as to the form of a possible relapse now is that I have been having movement-limitating pain in my right shoulder, and the collarbone in particular. I made an appointment (logically, I thought...) with the rheumatologist who took X-rays, a sonogram and ordered a bone scan. The radiograph was essentially normal, sonogram showed some swelling with fluid which the doc said he could see at clinical exam, and the bone scan showed two areas of increased uptake in my clavicle. With all of those results, he said that he felt it was inflammatory and that he could go on investigating, but that it would cause more problems than it would solve. He did not, however, name what it could be...

I figured that I would be having another scan next July as part of my standard follow-up, and that whatever it was would not likely have killed me before then, so it could wait.

But then, in order not to go on making appointments for "nothing" - and worrying myself sick in the process - I asked him if he could indicate what a recurrence would look like, and was shocked to hear him reply that he didn't know BECAUSE THOSE PATIENTS WITH PBL NEVER RETURNED TO HIM ONCE THEY WERE IN THE HANDS OF THE HEMATOLOGISTS. Now, I do know for a fact that he is extremely busy and dedicated, but I cannot help being disappointed in him on this point...

I really feel that I need to move on with my life and focus on other things than this whole episode, but I find it difficult to do so without feeling confident that I can tell the difference between something worth making an appointment and any ordinary pain. It may seem irrational, but reflects my case history.

PBL

po18guy
Posts: 1041
Joined: Nov 2011

That is our human nature. However, what you had is not bone cancer, but lymphoma in the bone. The chance of it choosing bone elsewhere in your body seems to me to be extremely unlikely. A single mutated B-Cell migrated to your bone as part of its routine travels, cloned itself for some reason and grew in your bone into hundreds of millions of clones of itself. For one of those clones to have survived, and to have then taken up residence in another bone elsewhere is about as likely as your chances of winning the lotto, I would think.

Each and every pain you feel is referred to as "noise" inasmuch as it raises the specter of a relapse. But, our fears rarely materialize. What you will have to be aware of is that it could relapse, and anywhere in your body, from brain to eyeballs to pancreas to spleen. Lymphoma, being a tumor of the immune system, can occur anywhere in your body. Vigilance is the correct response. 

Will it relapse? No one can say. The advantage is that new treatments are arriving regularly, so hope is increasing as each day, week, month and year pass.  

PBL
Posts: 190
Joined: Jul 2016

I guess that's what the systematic follow-up tests are all about. I'm not so good at keeping an eye on every boo-boo. I do hope they will be able to pick up its scent if and when it does return.

Thank you for your wisdom.

PBL

po18guy
Posts: 1041
Joined: Nov 2011

With a lymphoma history, doctor should take any concerns seiously. Allow prudence to take precedence over paranoia. 

PBL
Posts: 190
Joined: Jul 2016

Will do! Thanks again.

PBL

NailsJHS
Posts: 13
Joined: Jul 2016

Hi PBL, Just got back on the boards recently.  Although the term PBL was never used to describe my NHL, as I told you in previous threads I too had the lymphoma only in the bone marrow of my right hip and pelvic bones.  I finished bendamustine and rituxan in late October and my November PET scan showed "NED" no evidence of disease.  I don't go back to the oncologist until March. 

I asked about how I would know if it came back too and they were just as vague as your doctors were. I think they honestly can not tell you because as we all know now each case is different and as po18guy said the cancer could never come back or come back somewhere else in your body.  It's enough to drive you mad, believe me I know.  I continue to have aches and pains and stiffness throughout my body, but my doc did say it would take up to 12-18 mos post-treatment for my body to feel 'normal' again. I am attributing most of my pains to that in an effort to stay positive. 

Oddly enough ,I too have had a great deal of right shoulder pain recently.  At one my apmts my doc had said there "might be something in your shoulder too".  It was never confirmed to be the lymphoma because to do that they would have to biopsy the bone marrow there (that is how they diagnosed the hip).  I had a muscular injury in that shoulder prior to my diagnosis and I truly feel that is what caused that pain and not lymphoma. However, flash forward several months and my shoulder is bothering me again. I am going to the orthopedic to check it out, but am also worried so I messaged my oncologist about it. Waiting to hear what she says. 

So....too late for a long story to be short, but my decision is to just take one day at a time. For me the cancer showed it self to me via intense, severe pain in my hip and so if I ever feel that kind of pain anywhere I will certainly be calling the doctor. For the rest of my somewhat normal pains I just manage through diet and exercise. 

It's hard.

 

 

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3363
Joined: May 2012

Nails,

Any lymphoma can re-emerge as the same disease, as a different form of lymphoma, or as a form of leukemia very easily.  The doctors are vague because so many differing possibilities are possible.  It is honesty on their part.  My hematologist told me at the end of chemo with PETS showing NED that

"I might never have cancer again, I might some day have the same strain of HL again, I might develop an aggressive form of NHL later, or I might get leukemia some day."  ALL of these were clinically reasonable and possible.  Chemo combos with radiation significantly increase the statistical liklihood of a lymphoma morphining into a leukemia, so I always refused radiation later, when I got prostate cancer.

You are doing as much as a person can do.  Live and hope for the best, ask questions when it is reasonable to do so.  My strain of indolent HL has a 15 % relapse rate, relatively high. What does that mean to me ?  It means that I have an 85% liklihood to NOT relapse -- a number I like.

max

PBL
Posts: 190
Joined: Jul 2016

Hello again NailsJHS,

Happy to resume our conversation, but sorry to find that your recovery causes you some concern. Intriguing how we should both have shoulder issues after having both had hip pain... Unlike you, however, nothing showed in my shoulder at diagnosis over a year ago. I had had pain in the same shoulder in 2014, and, just like with my hip, the x-rays then revealed nothing.

In my quest for information, I read that as many as 20-25% of indolent lymphomas experience spontaneous remission, which might explain my personal experience with this disease...

The hematologist whom I saw last week told me she would order a PET scan for me, maybe next visit (in another eight weeks) - she was't quite sure what to do and seemed to want to discuss my case with the rhumatologist as well as her colleagues.

Do keep me posted on your own developments.

Wishing you the best,

PBL

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