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Leukemia & Lymphoma

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Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphomas

It is possible that the main title of the report Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphomas is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


Disorder Subdivisions

  • Mycosis Fungoides
  • Sezary Syndrome
  • Granulomatous Slack Skin
  • Primary Cutaneous Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphomas
  • Lymphomatoid Papulosis
  • Subcutaneous Panniculitic T-Cell Lymphoma
  • Pagetoid Reticulosis (Woringer-Kolopp Disease)

General Discussion

Cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs) are a group of disorders characterized by abnormal accumulation of malignant T-cells in the skin potentially resulting in the development of rashes, plaques and tumors. CTCLs belong to a larger group of disorders known as non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs), which are related malignancies (cancers) that affect the lymphatic system (lymphomas). Functioning as part of the immune system, the lymphatic system helps to protect the body against infection and disease. It consists of a network of tubular channels (lymph vessels) that drain a thin watery fluid known as lymph from different areas of the body into the bloodstream. Lymph accumulates in the tiny spaces between tissue cells and contains proteins, fats, and certain white blood cells known as lymphocytes.

There are two main types of lymphocytes: B-lymphocytes, which may produce specific antibodies to "neutralize" certain invading microorganisms, and T-lymphocytes, which may directly destroy microorganisms or assist in the activities of other lymphocytes. CTCLs result from errors in the production of T-lymphocytes or transformation of T-lymphocytes into malignant cells. In CTCLs abnormal, uncontrolled growth and multiplication (proliferation) of malignant T-lymphocytes result in accumulation of these lymphocytes in the skin. In some cases, malignant lymphocytes may spread to affect the lymph nodes and eventually to other bodily tissues and organs, potentially resulting in life-threatening complications. The specific symptoms and physical findings may vary from case to case, depending upon the extent and region(s) of involvement, the specific type of CTCL present, and various additional factors.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, such as CTCLs, may also be categorized based upon certain characteristics of the cancer cells as seen under a microscope and how quickly they may tend to grow and spread. For example, CTCLs may be characterized as "low-grade" (or indolent) lymphomas, which tend to grow slowly and result in few associated symptoms, or "intermediate-grade" or "high-grade" (aggressive) lymphomas, which typically grow rapidly, requiring prompt treatment. Most cases of CTCL, especially the classic form (mycosis fungoides), are slow-growing (indolent) lymphomas.


Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
1311 Mamaroneck Avenue
Suite 310
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: (914)949-5213
Fax: (914)949-6691
Tel: (800)955-4572

American Cancer Society, Inc.
250 Williams NW St
Ste 6000
Atlanta, GA 30303
Tel: (404)320-3333
Tel: (800)227-2345
TDD: (866)228-4327

National Cancer Institute Physician Data Query
Office of Communications and Education
Public Inquiries Office
6116 Executive Blvd
Suite 300
Bethesda, MD 20892-8322
Tel: (800)422-6237

National Cancer Institute
6116 Executive Blvd Suite 300
Bethesda, MD 20892-8322
Tel: (301)435-3848
Tel: (800)422-6237
TDD: (800)332-8615

National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
1010 Wayne Avenue
7th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Tel: (301)650-9127
Fax: (301)565-9670
Tel: (888)650-9127

Cancer Hope Network
2 North Road
Suite A
Chester, NJ 07930
Tel: (908)879-4039
Fax: (908)879-6518
Tel: (800)552-4366

OncoLink: The University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center Resource
3400 Spruce Street
2 Donner
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4283
Tel: (215)349-8895
Fax: (215)349-5445

Lymphoma Research Foundation
115 Broadway
Suite 1301
New York, NY 10006
Tel: (212)349-2910
Fax: (212)349-2886
Tel: (800)235-6848

Canadian Cancer Society
55 St. Clair Avenue West Suite 500
Toronto, M4V 2Y7
Tel: 4164885400
Fax: 4164882872
Tel: 8002688874

Lymphoma Foundation Canada
16-1375 Southdown Road
Suite 236
Ontario, L5J 2Z1
Tel: 9058225135
Fax: 9058149152
Tel: 8666595556

Lymphoma Association (UK)
PO Box 386
Aylesbury, HP20 2GA
United Kingdom
Tel: 01296619400

International Cancer Alliance for Research and Education (ICARE)
4853 Cordell Avenue
Suite 14
Bethesda, MD 20814
Tel: (301)656-3461
Fax: (301)654-8684
Tel: (800)422-7361

Rare Cancer Alliance
1649 North Pacana Way
Green Valley, AZ 85614

Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation
PO Box 374
Birmingham, MI 48012-0374
Tel: (248)644-9014
Fax: (248)233-3769

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
TDD: (888)205-3223

Friends of Cancer Research
1800 M Street NW
Suite 1050 South
Washington, DC 22202
Tel: (202)944-6700

Cancer Support Community
1050 17th St NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202)659-9709
Fax: (202)974-7999
Tel: (888)793-9355

Lance Armstrong Foundation
2201 E. Sixth Street
Austin, TX 78702
Tel: (512)236-8820
Fax: (512)236-8482
Tel: (877)236-8820

For a Complete Report:

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated: 1/3/2007
Copyright 1989, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2007 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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