Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) is a rare type of cancer that begins in the white blood cells, called T-lymphocytes (T-cells), and attacks the skin. T-cells are important to the immune system and help the body fight infection(s). However, with an abnormal and rapid production of these cells, T-cells can accumulate in the body and cause cancer. CTCL also can involve the blood, the lymph nodes, and other internal organs. Check out this infographic to learn more about CTCL:
Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) Overview - 2 Main Types
- Mycosis fungoides is the most common type of CTCL, with approximately 16,000 to 20,000 cases across the United States. The disease looks different in each patient, with skin symptoms that appear as patches, plaques, or tumors. It is possible to have more than one type of lesion. A diagnosis consists of a medical history, physical exam, and a skin biopsy. Physicians may also examine the lymph nodes, order various blood tests, or conduct other screening tests. Mycosis fungoides are difficult to diagnose because symptoms and skin biopsies are similar to those of other skin conditions.
- Sezary syndrome is an advanced form of mycosis fungoides, which is characterized by the presence of lymphoma cells in the blood. Extensive thin, red, itchy rashes usually cover over 80 percent of the body. Patients may also experience changes in the nails, hair, or eyelids, or have enlarged lymph nodes. Along with a medical history, physical exam, and skin biopsy, a physician may order a series of imaging tests to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.
Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) Overview - Symptoms
Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma symptoms can include dry skin, itching (which can be severe), a red rash, scaly patches or thickened plaques, enlarged lymph nodes, and, sometimes, skin tumors.
Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) Overview - Important Facts
- The disease affects men more often than women.
- Usually occurs in men in their 50s and 60s.
- CTCL may be mistaken for skin conditions like eczema or chronic dermatitis.