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Doctor checking patient's lymph nodes

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects T-cells—white blood cells that are found in skin and other lymph tissues. Like many other cancers, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is staged according to the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s TNM classification system. This system evaluates:

  • The primary (original) tumor (T)
  • If the cancer has reached nearby lymph nodes (N)
  • If the cancer has spread—or metastasized—to distant areas of the body (M)

Staging cutaneous T-cell lymphoma can also include a “B” consideration, which indicates the extent of blood involvement.

What are the stages of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma?

Based on results from diagnostic tests such as imaging scans and biopsies, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma may be staged as:   

Stage 1

In stage 1, raised, red patches called plaques may appear on the skin. If less than 10% of the skin is affected, the cancer is classified as stage 1A. Stage 1B describes plaques that cover more than 10% of the skin. 

Stage 2

Stage 2A is similar to stage 1, but one or more lymph nodes appear enlarged. In stage 2B, lymph nodes are unaffected but one or more small tumors develop on the skin. 

Stage 3

Stage 3 is characterized by widespread plaques and at least one tumor. The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes, but they may appear swollen.  

Stage 4

The cancer spreads to the blood or lymph nodes in stage 4A. In stage 4B, the cancer is found in the lymph nodes or blood and has metastasized to distant organs, such as the lungs or liver.

Stages 1 and 2 are generally considered early stages, during which cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is more treatable. In advanced-stage disease, including stages 3 and 4, a systemic treatment plan may be necessary to address more complex and widespread cancer.

Moffitt’s approach

Whether you’re experiencing possible symptoms of skin cancer or are seeking a second opinion, Moffitt Cancer Center offers the expertise you need. The multispecialty team within our Cutaneous Oncology Program excels in diagnosing and treating uncommon malignancies such as cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. To request an appointment and rapidly connect with a Moffitt physician, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.