Cutaneous Lymphoma

The MUSC Cutaneous Lymphoma Clinic brings together experts from multiple fields of medicine to deliver the highest possible level of care for patients with cutaneous lymphomas. As part of the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, we are committed to providing the best clinical experience and outcomes for each of our patients. Our multi-disciplinary team includes dermatologists, oncologists, dermato- and hematopathologists, and radiation oncologists who work together to ensure accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of these rare cancers.

Expert Care at the MUSC Cutaneous Lymphoma Clinic

  • A team of specialists from a variety of medical fields work together to ensure you get an accurate, quick diagnosis and the highest level of care.
  • Expertise from multiple perspectives means we consider your full range of treatment options.
  • Treatment monitoring and pharmacy assistance help smooth your path to recovery.
  • Integration with the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center means the latest technologies and treatments are available to you.
  • Connections to dermatologists and medical oncologists across the region help you get treated close to home.

What is cutaneous lymphoma?

Cutaneous lymphoma is an uncommon immune system cancer that primarily involves the skin. Most often, it only involves the skin and is not aggressive–meaning it typically grows slowly. However, in some patients, cutaneous lymphomas can spread to the lymph nodes, blood, and other organs.

As a cancer of the immune system, cutaneous lymphoma primarily affects cells called lymphocytes. While some lymphocytes travel around the body performing various immune-system functions, others stay put in the skin. These are the lymphocytes that cutaneous lymphoma predominantly affects and why it typically does not spread beyond the skin. When it does affect other types of lymphocytes, cutaneous lymphoma can begin to travel throughout the body and affect other organs.

Because cutaneous lymphoma is uncommon, it is best to be evaluated by specialists who are familiar this this type of cancer and its treatments.

What are the most common types?

There are two main categories of cutaneous lymphoma: cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and cutaneous B-cell lymphoma. Each has many sub-types that behave differently and require different treatments. That’s why it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis.

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is the most common type, overall, and has several sub-types including Mycosis Fungoides (MF) and Sézary Syndrome (SS).

Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma is less common and also has several sub-types including follicle center, marginal zone, and large cell lymphomas.

What are the most common treatments?

A step-by-step treatment plan is important to maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects.

For nonaggressive cutaneous lymphomas that only affect the skin, treatment usually starts with external, skin-directed therapies. These include topical creams, ointments, and light therapies such as ultraviolet light (nbUVB and PUVA).

Systemic therapies may be needed for cutaneous lymphomas that have spread beyond the skin or do not respond to skin-directed therapies. These include oral or intravenous (IV) medications that can treat both the skin and other affected parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, blood, and organs.

Radiation therapy is also highly effective for treating cutaneous lymphomas.

Supportive treatments are used to relieve symptoms such as itching and dry skin and include moisturizing lotions, anti-itch medications, and antibiotics for skin infections that may develop.