Marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) is an indolent B-cell lymphoma arising from marginal zone B-cells present in lymph nodes and extranodal tissues. MZL comprises 5–17% of all non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas in adults. The World Health Organization categorizes MZL into three distinct types based on their site of impact: (1) splenic marginal zone lymphoma (SMZL); (2) nodal marginal zone lymphoma (NMZL); (3) extranodal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma, which can be subdivided into gastric and nongastric. The subgroups of MZL share some common features but are different in their biology and behavior. Owing to the rarity of MZL there are few randomized trials available comparing various treatment options and therefore treatment is controversial, lacking standard guidelines. Treatment should be patient tailored and can range from a ‘watchful waiting’ approach for asymptomatic patients without cytopenias to surgery or localized radiation therapy. Rituximab in combination with chemotherapy has resulted in longer failure-free survival than chemotherapy alone in patients with SMZL. Helicobacter pylori positive gastric MALT shows a good response rate to triple antibiotic therapy. Newer therapies such as bendamustine, everolimus, lenalidomide, vorinostat and phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitors are in clinical trials for patients with relapsed or refractory MZL and have shown promising results. We are presently conducting clinical trials testing the efficacy of the epigenetic activity of cladribine as a hypomethylating agent in combination with the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) vorinostat and rituximab in patients with MZL. Further studies with the newer agents should be done both in newly diagnosed or relapsed/refractory MZL to streamline the care and to avoid the use of toxic chemotherapies as initial treatment.
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