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Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphomas

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.


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.


  • CTCL

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.


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Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation

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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

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