Cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs) constitute a group of non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs) of the skin; they account for about 4% of all NHLs. The overall annual age-adjusted incidence of CTCL is approximately six cases per one million.1
CTCLs are cancers of the T lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) that mainly affect the skin. There are many types of CTCL. The two main subtypes are mycosis fungoides (MF) and Sézary syndrome (SS). Initial signs of MF include skin patches, plaques or tumor nodules. SS is a type of CTCL that affects both the skin and the blood. Patients with SS may experience severe itching and are at increased risk for infections.
MF and SS are more often diagnosed in men than in women and usually are first diagnosed in people between the ages of 50 and 60 years, although these cancers can be found in younger people.
The type of treatment prescribed for patients who have MF or SS is based on a number of factors, including the patient’s health, age and disease stage (how far the cancer has progressed). Early-stage MF usually responds well to skin-directed therapies such as phototherapy, radiation, topical chemotherapy or corticosteroid skin creams. Treatment for patients with advanced stages of MF or SS generally requires systemic therapies.