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Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Jan 31, 2024

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Causes Of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Symptoms Of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Diagnosis Of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Treatment Of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a rare type of cancer that originates in T cells, sometimes referred to as T lymphocytes, which are white blood cells. These cells typically aid the immune system in combating pathogens within your body. 

Skin-targeting T cells become aberrant in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Eczema-like skin rashes, slightly raised or scaly circular skin patches, and skin tumors can all occasionally be caused by cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

There are different kinds of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Among these, mycosis fungoides is the most common type. There is a rare type known as Sezary syndrome that results in red skin throughout the body. There are cutaneous T-cell lymphoma forms that progress more quickly than others, such as mycosis fungoides.

Your particular type of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma will determine the best course of action for you. Treatment options include skin creams, sun therapy, radiation therapy, and systemic medications including chemotherapy. Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is one of the several types of lymphomas known as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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Causes Of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

The precise cause of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is uncertain.

Changes to a cell's DNA are typically the initial stage in the development of cancer. A cell's DNA contains instructions that tell it what to do. There are many aberrant cells as a result of the cells' rapid proliferation and expansion due to DNA defects.

Skin-attacking T cells proliferate as a result of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma mutations. Immune system cells called T cells frequently help the body fight illnesses. The source of the onslaught of skin cells is unknown to medical professionals.

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Symptoms Of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Symptoms and signs of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma include:

  • Skin patches that are round, itchy, and possibly elevated or scaly
  • Patches of skin that appear paler than the surrounding tissue
  • Skin-colored lumps that may rupture
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Hair loss
  • Thickening of the skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  • An extremely irritating, rash-like redness that covers the entire body

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Diagnosis Of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

The diagnosis of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is made using the tests and procedures listed below:

  • Physical assessment: Your doctor will examine your skin to look for patches of scaly skin or firm, raised growths. You will also be examined for any signs that your organs or lymph nodes might be affected.
  • Blood tests: It may be necessary to do blood tests, like the complete blood count, to better understand your health. Sometimes blood cancer cells are found, particularly in Sezary syndrome instances.
  • Biopsy samples of the skin: A skin biopsy is usually necessary for the diagnosis of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. This procedure involves taking a small sample of skin. One circular instrument that can be used to make skin cuts is a punch biopsy. A tiny knife may be used for the biopsy (excisional biopsy) in cases of bigger lesions and tumors.
    • In a laboratory, the sample is examined by a pathologist, a medical specialist in the analysis of blood and tissue, to determine whether cancer cells are present. Sometimes several skin biopsies are needed to confirm your diagnosis. Comprehensive laboratory tests to look at the tissue could reveal details about your cancer that help your doctor determine the best course of therapy and help you have a better prognosis.
  • Imaging tests: Should your physician believe that there's a possibility the cancer cells have spread to other parts of your body, diagnostic procedures such as CT or PET scans may be recommended.

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Treatment Of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

There are several treatment options available for people with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. The size and stage of your lymphoma are two of the many variables that will determine the best course of treatment for you. Most individuals with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma receive a combination of treatments.

Options for a potential treatment plan include:

  • Creams and lotions for the skin: Medication can be applied topically as creams, gels, and ointments. Corticosteroids can help lessen skin redness and irritation. One skin treatment that goes after cancer cells is chemotherapy.
  • Light therapy or phototherapy: The administration of particular light wavelengths, such as UVB or UVA, to the skin is known as phototherapy. Phototherapy makes use of a range of tools, including light-exposing booths that expose most of your body to light. Sometimes, photodynamic treatment is administered prior to phototherapy. This medication improves the sensitivity of skin cells to light. Compared to healthy cells, cancerous cells do not regrow as quickly.
  • Radiation therapy: In radiation therapy, energy beams are utilized to kill cancer cells. For those with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma in a single area, radiation therapy with X-rays may be recommended regularly. Multiple-area cancer patients may benefit from electron beam radiation therapy, which targets the skin without damaging inside organs. Usually, electron beam radiation exposes the skin in its entirety.
  • Medicines: In the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, immune system modulators such as interferon and steroids are administered. Chemotherapy medications target cells that proliferate quickly, such as cancer cells. Medication known as "targeted therapy" focuses on the weaknesses that cancer cells have.
  • Making blood cells visible to light: You can take medicine to make your cells more sensitive to light through a procedure called extracorporeal photopheresis. Following that, a device that exposes your blood to UV rays filters it before reintroducing it into your body.
  • Transplantation of bone marrow: An allogeneic bone marrow transplant replaces your diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow from a matched donor. This procedure is known as a bone marrow transplant, commonly known as a stem cell transplant. During the transplant process, you will be administered chemotherapy drugs to suppress the damaged bone marrow. Following that, healthy donor cells are infused into your body, where they attach themselves to your bones and begin the process of marrow regeneration.

Also Read: Angiosarcoma: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

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