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A type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) occurs when certain white blood cells (T cells) develop abnormalities that cause them to attack the skin. Treatment options for this cancer will depend on multiple factors, most notably:

  • The degree of skin involvement
  • If the cancer has spread (metastasized) to lymph nodes or internal organs
  • The specific type of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma present

The two main subtypes of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma are Mycosis Fungoides (MF) and Sezary Syndrome (SS). While these diseases come with varying treatment approaches, many treatment plans include a combination of:

Topical steroids

Available in gel, ointment and cream forms, topical steroids are a well-established therapy for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. This treatment is applied directly to the skin to destroy lymphoma cells and help reduce symptoms like inflammation and itching.


Topical chemotherapies can be applied to the skin to help prevent lymphoma cells from growing. If a patient’s cancer has spread to lymph nodes or internal organs, systemic chemotherapy may also be administered into the bloodstream.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapies including total skin electron beam (TSEB) and internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) are commonly relied upon to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. This type of treatment uses X-ray beams to attack cancer cells in a specific area.


Phototherapy, also referred to as light therapy, is a promising treatment for many patients with early-stage cancer. It involves using various forms of ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy cancer cells on the skin. The principles of light therapy are also used during extracorporeal photopheresis, a systemic procedure that treats a portion of the patient’s blood with UV light and a photosensitizing drug.


Some treatment plans include topical or oral retinoids, a medication derived from vitamin A. Retinoids control several biologic responses, including cell death and growth, and have shown to be effective at killing cancer cells.

Immunotherapies & targeted therapies

Immunotherapies and targeted therapies don’t attack the cancer cells themselves—rather, these medications and injections focus on disrupting the processes that contribute to cancer growth. There are multiple immunotherapies and targeted therapies that can be used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, with several more promising immune response modifiers currently being evaluated in clinical trials.

There is currently no cure for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. However, advancements in treatment have significantly improved the outlook for people with this cancer. Some patients are able to live relatively symptom-free for many years with the right treatment approach. As is the case with most all cancers, early diagnosis is key to achieving a more positive prognosis and quality of life.

Moffitt’s approach to cutaneous T-cell lymphoma treatment

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is an uncommon disease that few cancer specialists have experience treating. That’s why many patients choose Moffitt Cancer Center for skin lymphoma treatment. A high-volume cancer center, Moffitt features a Malignant Hematology Program and Cutaneous Oncology Program with oncologists and hematologists who possess a unique level of experience addressing cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and other rare hematologic diseases.

Moffitt is also a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, standing at the forefront of lymphoma research and continually conducting clinical trials to improve skin lymphoma treatment options. Additionally, Moffitt patients benefit from the expertise of supportive care specialists who assist with the emotional and physical challenges associated with cancer and its treatment.

If you would like to speak with a Moffitt oncologist about a cutaneous T-cell lymphoma diagnosis and what treatment options may be available to you, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online. You can also visit Moffitt for comprehensive diagnostics if you are displaying potential symptoms of skin lymphoma or other skin cancers. Our team will promptly arrange an appointment time for you and answer any questions you may have.