Lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system. There are two main types of lymphoma – Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. T-cell lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that develops in mature T cells, which play an important role in the immune response. In this article, we will discuss an overview of T-cell lymphoma, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
What are T cells and their function?
T cells, also known as T lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell (leukocyte) that play a central role in cell-mediated immunity. They mature in the thymus and have special receptors on their surface called T cell receptors (TCRs) that allow them to recognize specific antigens, molecules usually found on the surface of viruses, bacteria, fungi or protozoa. When a T cell encounters a foreign antigen that it recognizes, it activates the immune response to fight off infections. There are two main types of T cells – CD4+ T cells (helper T cells) that help stimulate and coordinate other immune cells, and CD8+ T cells (cytotoxic T cells) that directly kill infected cells or tumor cells.
Types of T-cell Lymphoma
T-cell lymphomas can be categorized based on the stage of T-cell development when the lymphocytes become malignant. The main types include:
– Peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL): This is the most common type of T-cell lymphoma in adults. It develops from mature T cells present in the lymph nodes and organs other than the thymus and bone marrow. Some common subtypes include angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma and anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
– Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL): As the name suggests, this type involves the skin and can present with rashes and skin sores. Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are examples.
– Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL): This aggressive lymphoma develops from T cells or null lymphocyte cells that do not have characteristics of B cells or T cells.
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of T-cell lymphomas is not fully understood. However, factors that can increase the risk include:
– Age: Risk generally increases with age, with most cases occurring in those over 60 years.
– Immune suppression: People with weakened immune systems due to AIDS, chemotherapy, organ transplant or certain immune disorders have a higher risk.
– Viruses: Epstein-Barr virus is linked to some types of peripheral T-cell lymphomas and HTLV-1 virus to certain cutaneous forms.
– Genetic factors: Changes in certain genes like TP53 may play a role in some cases.
The symptoms of T-Cell Lymphoma depend on the specific subtypes and the stage of the disease. Common signs may include:
– Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, underarms or groin area
– Fever and night sweats
– Weight loss and fatigue
– Skin rashes or sores for cutaneous forms
– Abdominal pain from an enlarged spleen or liver
If a person is experiencing concerning symptoms, doctors will conduct tests to determine if it could be lymphoma. This may involve:
– Physical exam and health history
– Complete blood count and blood chemistry tests
– Imaging scans like CT or PET scans to check for lymph node enlargement
– Biopsy of an affected lymph node, bone marrow or other tissue for microscopic examination
– Immunophenotyping to identify cell types using markers on the cell surface
– Genetic testing to identify specific chromosome changes
The prognosis depends on the T-cell lymphoma subtypes and stage. More aggressive forms have a poorer 5-year survival rate compared to indolent subtypes which progress slowly. However, treatments are improving survival outcomes, especially for younger patients who are able to tolerate intensive therapies. Close monitoring after treatment also helps detect any recurrence at early stages. With a multidisciplinary care approach, many patients can now live longer with a good quality of life
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it