Gastric marginal zone lymphoma of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT)-type can regress after anti-Helicobacter pylori treatment. The International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group, the United Kingdom Lymphoma Group, and the Groupe d'Etude des Lymphomes de I'Adulte have conducted a trial to ascertain whether the addition of chlorambucil is of benefit after anti-H pylori therapy. At the last interim analysis, 105 (55%) of 189 patients had achieved a complete histologic remission after anti-Helicobacter therapy. To further assess the ability of treatment to eradicate the lymphoma clone, we analyzed the gastric biopsies from a subset of the patients by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeted to the immunoglobulin heavy chain genes as a molecular marker for minimal residual disease. Sixty-two cases were examined at diagnosis. Fifty-four cases were monoclonal by PCR. Forty-two of these patients achieved histologic complete remission (hCR) after anti-Helicobacter treatment: 34 cases underwent molecular follow-up analysis. Fifteen patients (44%) were in molecular remission with a median follow-up of 2 years after antibiotic treatment and of 1 year after the achievement of hCR. Less than half of the patients with MALT lymphoma can achieve sustained molecular remission after anti-Helicobacter therapy. The presence of molecular disease in the absence of histologic disease does not appear to be associated with histologic relapse, but, given the indolent nature of MALT lymphomas, a longer follow-up is needed.
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