What Is Cutaneous Lymphoma?

Cutaneous lymphoma is a disease that occurs when white blood cells called T-lymphocytes or B-lymphocytes become malignant (cancerous) and affect the skin. Lymphocytes are the infection-fighting cells of the lymph system that kill harmful bacteria in the body, among other things.

Cutaneous lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but has distinct skin-related symptoms. In fact, it is sometimes called lymphoma of the skin. It can resemble eczema or chronic dermatitis, so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as early as possible.

There are four major types of cutaneous lymphoma:

  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL)
    • Mycosis fungoides
    • Sézary syndrome
  • Lymphomatoid papulosis (T-cell)
  • Primary cutaneous B-cell lymphoma
  • Primary cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma (rare T-cell lymphoma)

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is by far the most common type of cutaneous lymphoma. CTCL is usually a slow-growing cancer that often develops over many years.

Related Resources

Cutaneous Lymphoma Society