Cutaneous lymphoma is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – one of the two primary forms of lymphoma (the other is Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Lymphoma is a blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system.
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What is Cutaneous Lymphoma?
Lymphomas are rare blood cancers that affect the lymphatic system, the part of the body that helps fight diseases and infection. When certain white blood cells, called lymphocytes, grow abnormally and multiply, lymphoma develops.
Cutaneous lymphoma is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) – one of the two primary forms of lymphoma (the other is Hodgkin’s lymphoma). It is usually less aggressive than other lymphomas, and it tends to stay in the skin instead of spreading into the lymph nodes, bone marrow or spleen.
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 70,000 new cases of NHL are diagnosed each year in the United States, and about five percent of those cases are classified as cutaneous lymphoma.
Cutaneous lymphoma can develop at any age, but it occurs most often after age 50 and in more men than women.
Types of Cutaneous Lymphoma
Of the numerous subtypes of cutaneous lymphoma, T-cell cutaneous lymphoma is the most prevalent. Within that group, there are even more subtypes.
T-Cell Cutaneous Lymphoma
The numerous subtypes of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas include:
- Mycosis Fungoides: This subtype accounts for nearly half of all cutaneous lymphomas. It first appears on the skin, and it can spread to the lymph nodes or other organs such as the spleen, liver or lungs
- Sézary Syndrome: This subtype is more aggressive than mycosis fungoides and involves all of the skin
- Anaplastic Large T-Cell Lymphoma: This aggressive subtype starts as a tumor on the skin, then may spread to the lymph nodes, bones, soft tissues, lungs or liver
- Lymphomatoid Papulosus: This subtype affects younger adults and will sometimes heal without treatment
- Primary Cutaneous CD8+ T-Cell Lymphoma: This subtype can look like mycosis fungoides
- Parapsoriasis: This subtype starts with scaly patches on the skin that can sometimes progress to cutaneous lymphoma
- Subcutaneous Panniculitis-Like T-Cell Lymphoma: This subtype is a rare form of cancer that invades the skin’s deepest layers
- Primary Cutaneous Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma, Unspecified: This subtype is a category for rare, unspecified types of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas
B-Cell Cutaneous Lymphoma
Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma accounts for about one in five cutaneous lymphoma cases.
There are also several subtypes of cutaneous B-cell lymphomas. These include:
- Cutaneous Follicle Center Lymphoma: This is the most prevalent B-cell subtype. It grows very slowly and is diagnosed more often in middle-aged adults
- Cutaneous Marginal Zone B-Cell Lymphoma: This is the second most prevalent B-cell lymphoma, and it is often found on the arms. It can be diagnosed at any age
- Cutaneous Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, Leg Type: This subtype is a more rare but more aggressive lymphoma, and it usually is found on the legs. It is diagnosed more often in women than in men
- Primary Cutaneous Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, Other: This subtype is also more rare and can be found anywhere but the leg
Cutaneous Lymphoma Symptoms
Most patients with cutaneous lymphoma notice a red rash on the skin that does not go away. The number of rashes or size of the patch depends on the type of cutaneous lymphoma.
Other symptoms of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas may include:
- Red, scaly patches of skin
- Small, pimple-like lesions on the skin
- Thickened patches of skin resembling eczema
- Large lumps just under the skin
With mycosis fungoides, a patient’s rash usually goes through several phases that range from a red rash to tumors that can form on the skin and become infected.
People who have Sézary syndrome might have red, itchy and peeling skin all over their body. They also can have pain with the rashes and areas of plaque or tumors.
Having symptoms does not necessarily mean you have cutaneous lymphoma. But if you have symptoms, you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms are severe or have continued for longer than a few weeks.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cutaneous lymphoma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a lymphoma specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.