Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is a disease caused when T-lymphocytes become malignant and affect the skin. T-lymphocytes are the infection-fighting white blood cells in the lymph system that kill harmful bacteria in the body, among other things. Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma usually is a slow-growing cancer that often develops over many years. The two most common types of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma are mycosis fungoides and the Sezary syndrome.
Symptoms of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma depend on the stage of the cancer (how far it has spread). The following are the most common signs and symptoms of mycosis fungoides and the Sezary syndrome. (Other cutaneous T-cell lymphomas are staged slightly differently):
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The symptoms of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma may resemble other dermatological conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a medical history and physical examination, a doctor may order a biopsy of a skin tumor or lymph node to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present. The lymph nodes, bone marrow, and the blood may also be sampled to look for lymphoma cells to help determine the stage of the disease.
Specific treatment for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment may include:
Clinical trials are currently being conducted using biological therapy, also called biological response modifier therapy, or immunotherapy. Biological therapy tries to get your own body to fight cancer by using materials made by your own body, or made in a laboratory, to boost, direct, or restore your body's natural defenses against disease.
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