Pathology Characteristics of Lymphomas in Rwanda: A Retrospective Study

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Fiacre Mugabe Byiringiro
Felix Manirakiza
Déogratias Ruhangaza
Thierry Zawadi Muvunyi
Belson Rugwizangoga


Background: Lymphomas have been a global challenge for many decades and despite measures for prevention and management, the incidence continues to increase. There are two main categories, which are Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas and Hodgkin’s Lymphomas and most common etiologies are environmental, genetic alteration, radiation and some viruses.
Objective: To describe pathology characteristics of lymphomas in Rwanda based on Hematoxylin and Eosin stained glass slides and immuno histo chemistry, and classify them according to clinical aggressiveness.
Patients and Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational and descriptive study from January 2013 to December 2019. Lymphoma cases were retrieved together with relevant clinical and pathological information, and reviewed by independent pathologists. Histological diagnosis was classified according to the 2008 World Health Organization system in order to assign clinical aggressiveness of the lymphoma.
Results: Three hundred and six lymphoma cases were enrolled. Males contributed to 57% of all reviewed case, and slightly over 50% were young aged ≤35 years. Approximately 191 (62%) of cases were nodal lymphomas. Approximately one fifth (18%) of lymphoma cases were HIV positive. Most 213(70%) cases were Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas of aggressive forms 164(77%). Among 164 cases of aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas, diffuse large B cell lymphoma was the leading subtype 91(55.5%), followed by solid lymphoblastic lymphoma 32(19.5%) and Burkitt lymphoma 17(10.4%). Among all Hodgkin lymphoma cases, 90(97%) were classical Hodgkin lymphomaof nodular sclerosis subtype. Hodgkin lymphoma patients were younger compared to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas patients (mean age of 24.78±16.3 years versus 38.6±22. 5years, p=.000).
Conclusion: Substantial proportion of Lymphomapatients in Rwanda were also HIV positive. Interestingly, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas in Rwanda are predominated by the most aggressive forms, and these mostly affect a younger population. Optimal characterisation of such cases, using advanced methods, is recommended.

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