T-cell lymphoma

T-cell lymphoma

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells, namely lymphocytes. Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer and the third most common cancer of childhood. Lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, grow abnormally. The body has two types of lymphocytes: B lymphocytes, or B-cells, and T lymphocytes, or T-cells. Although both cell types can develop into lymphomas, B-cell lymphomas are more common.

T-cell lymphomas, categorized as non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, are a group of cancers that affect the T lymphocytes -- types of white blood cells that function in cell-mediated immunity. Stem cells in the bone marrow produce T lymphocytes which then travel to the thymus to mature. Although there are many types of T-cell lymphomas, they only account for approximately 15 percent of all non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.

There are many different types of T-cell lymphoma and some are extremely rare, occurring in only a few patients per year throughout the world. Most T-cell lymphomas are diagnosed by taking a small sample (called a biopsy) of the tumor and looking at the cells under a microscope. However, many forms of T-cell lymphoma are unusual in that the cells may look the same, making the diagnosis difficult. Thus, other blood tests can be helpful in diagnosing T-cell lymphoma.


One of the most common forms of T-cell lymphoma is cutaneous or skin lymphoma, because it starts in the lymphocytes in the skin. Cutaneous lymphoma actually describes many different disorders with various signs and symptoms, outcomes, and treatment considerations.

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL): CTCL is a slow-growing cancer that usually starts in the skin. Mycosis fungoides (MF) is the most common type of CTCL. It appears as skin patches, or plaques, and usually progresses over many years. A much rarer form of CTCL is S


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