Importance of T-Cells in Lymphoma
Only about 15% of the total of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas diagnosed in the United States are T-cell lymphomas. The T-cells have a similar function to a type of lymphocyte that are natural killer (NK) cells and when affected by cancer, the disease is classified as an NK or NK/T-cell lymphoma. There are several subtypes of T-cell lymphomas — some more common and others rare — but lymphomas that originate in the T-cells are commonly aggressive and can be fast-growing.
The most common types of T-cell lymphoma are peripheral T-cell lymphoma not otherwise specified (PTCL-NOS), anaplastic large cell lymphoma, angioimmunoblastic lymphoma, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. In addition, more rare types of T-cell lymphomas include adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL), blastic NK-cell lymphoma, enteropathy-type T-cell lymphoma, hematosplenic gamma-delta T-cell lymphoma, lymphoblastic lymphoma, nasal NK/T-cell lymphomas, and treatment-related T-cell lymphomas.
T-Cell Lymphoma Diagnosis
Patients usually consult with a physician when they start noticing painless swollen lymph nodes, which can appear in any part of the body but are more common in the neck and armpits. There are also other symptoms associated with the disease, including night sweats or fevers, unexplainable weight loss or lack of appetite, and in more severe cases, breathing problems, pain, distention and fatigue are also common.
Given the fact that lymphoma symptoms are also indicators of other diseases, physicians often conduct numerous tests and exams prior to confirming the diagnosis. a complete physical examination, biopsy and bone marrow, may be accompanied as by flow cytometry and immunohistochemical stains of the biopsied material, as well as thoracentesis in patients with pleural effusion, and paracentesis in cases of ascites.
Treatment of T-Cell Lymphoma
Understanding the origin and onset of lymphoma is crucial to determining proper treatment for patients. In the majority of cases, a combination of chemotherapy, such as CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone) or EPOCH (etoposide, vincristine, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, prednisone), is recommended for patients with T-cell lymphoma. One of the major problems in the treatment of lymphoma is the risk of relapse.
After 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved pralatrexate (Folotyn), romidepsin (Istodax) and brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris) in order to address the problem. These drugs are designed to treat patients with either relapsed lymphoma, or whose cancer is resistant to the common therapies.
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