Rare malignancies developing from lymphocyte precursor cells, lymphoblastic leukemia (LBL), and acute lymphoblastic lymphoma (ALL) have historically been viewed as different manifestations of the same disease process. This review examines data on their epidemiology, genetics, clinical presentation, and response to treatment while highlighting areas of similarity and divergence between these two clinical entities.
Pediatric-type ALL chemotherapy regimens, compared to both lymphoma-type chemotherapy and adult-type ALL regimens, have led to improved outcomes for children, adolescents, and young adults with ALL. BCR-ABL-targeting tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have improved outcomes in Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph +) ALL and in rare cases of Ph + LBL. Newer therapies including blinatumomab, inotuzumab, CAR-T therapy, and nelarabine have improved outcomes in selected cases of ALL and have an emerging role in the management of LBL. Better understanding of ALL and LBL biology allows for the development of therapies that target immunophenotypic or genetic features found in subsets of both diseases. Novel therapies are leading to improved outcomes in Ph + and relapsed and refractory disease.

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