Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, also referred to as ATCL, is a rare type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma arising from the T-cells (a type of white blood cell whose job it is to protect the body from infection).
The word anioimmunoblastic is derived from the root words ‘angio’, a term that refers to the blood vessels, and ‘immunoblast’, a term that identifies the most immature protective cells that compose the body’s immune response.
This rare disease accounts for only 1% of all non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases. It occurs predominantly in individuals over the age of sixty and it affects men slightly more than women.
Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma Symptoms and Features
Symptoms common to all lymphomas are present in cases of ATCL. These symptoms include the painless swelling of the armpits, groin, and/or neck, which are all the result of enlarged lymph nodes.
Furthermore, many lymphoma patients experience night sweats and a loss of appetite. Unique to angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma are skin rashes, joint pains, and various blood anomalies. These symptoms are the result of an immune reaction to anomalous proteins being produced by the cancer cells.
Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma Diagnosis
All lymphomas are diagnosed by examining cells from an enlarged lymph node under a microscope. Extracting these cells from the body is done so through a procedure known as biopsy. Biopsies are performed by qualified surgeons while the patient is under local or general anaesthic.
After biopsy has confirmed the presence of lymphoma, additional tests are conducted to locate the lymphoma and determine how far the disease has metastasized. Technologies and procedures that are usually employed to locate the lymphoma include computed tomography (CT scan), positron emission tomography (PET scan), and a variety of blood tests.
Biopsies of the skin are commonly conducted when skin rashes are present.
Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma Treatment
Steroids are often administered immediately to reduce rashes, swelling, and joint pain. They are not, however, intended to be used as a curative therapy. Following the administration of steroids, the patient usually undergoes high-dose chemotherapy treatment.
Lymphomas respond well to chemo; it can even be completely curative in some cases. Like all lymphomas, anioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma has a chance of disease relapse following treatment. If relapse occurs, additional chemo is typically administered to control the new growth.
Bone marrow and stem cell transplants have been experimented with as a possible treatment for angioimmunoblastic T-cell carcinoma, but because of the disease’s rarity, results are difficult to assess. Furthermore, these treatments carry with them a host of serious side effects.
Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma Prognosis
Prognosis is typically poor for patients diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T-cell carcinoma. Patients will typically survive for 1 to 3 years after diagnosis. The poor prognosis is due in part to the fact that this type of lymphoma is particularly aggressive, but is also a result of the diseases infrequent occurrence, leading to limited research and no standard treatment.