Infection Risk in Patients With Mantle Cell Lymphoma

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Patients with mantle cell lymphoma may be susceptible to certain diseases and may benefit from evaluation for the risk of infection, according to a recent study published by Abalo in HemaSphere.   


“Patients [with mantle cell lymphoma] live with an increased risk of infections for many years, which limits their quality of life and can also be very serious,” explained lead study author Antoine Kossi D. Abalo, PhD, a researcher in Precision Medicine for Cancer at Uppsala University.

Mantle cell lymphoma is a rare and incurable type of cancer of the lymphatic system, predominantly affecting men older than 70 years. Recent advances in treatment have greatly improved patients’ rate of survival. Those who receive treatment often experience disease-free survival for many years prior to cancer recurrence—with as many as 50% of them surviving for over 5 years.  

“[These patients] are more vulnerable to other diseases, especially infections, [as a result of] the intensive chemotherapy and the weakened immune system,” stressed senior study author Ingrid Glimelius, MD, PhD, Professor of Oncology and a senior physician at Uppsala University Hospital and Uppsala University.

Study Methods and Results

In the large-scale national study, the investigators used 2007 to 2019 data to examine the infection rates prior to and following diagnosis among 1,559 patients with mantle cell lymphoma and a reference group of 15,571 patients.

The investigators found that the patients with mantle cell lymphoma had twice as many infections as the patients in the reference group. The higher infection rate was observed 4 years prior to diagnosis and persisted for up to 8 years following diagnosis.

In the first year after diagnosis, 69% of patients with mantle cell lymphoma suffered from at least one infection—with common causes including influenza, pneumonia, bacterial infections, urinary tract infections, and acute upper respiratory infections. Notably, mantle cell lymphoma remained the primary cause of mortality among a majority of the patients. Infection-related mortality were found to be rare, accounting for only 2.6% of cases.


“Both [physicians] and patients need to be aware of these complications. This shows that alongside the treatment of lymphoma, we should have strategies to manage and reduce the risk of infections, as well as take measures to limit exposure to bacteria that could lead to infections. That way, we can improve the overall quality of life for patients,” underscored Dr. Glimelius.

“The results show that when considering new treatments for [mantle cell lymphoma], the risk of infection needs to be carefully evaluated. By delving into these findings, we can pave the way for more effective interventions, ultimately improving the quality and length of life of [patients] battling mantle cell lymphoma,” Dr. Abalo concluded.

Disclosure: The research in this study was funded by the Swedish Cancer Society. For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.