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Skin cancer types: Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma causes

Who gets cutaneous T-cell lymphoma?

The risk of developing this rare cancer increases with age. Most people are diagnosed when they are in their 50s or older. If you are African American and live in the United States, you may be diagnosed with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) in your 40s.

CTCL is very rare in children and teenagers.

Records show that more people are developing CTCL. This increase has been highest in men and African Americans.

What causes cutaneous T-cell lymphoma?

This cancer begins when white blood cells called T-lymphocytes (T-cells) mutate and turn into cancer cells.

Scientists still do not understand what causes these cells to mutate. They’ve studied the effects that many things, including different bacteria, genes, and chemicals can have on T-cells.

In one study, researchers discovered that S. aureus, which lives on our skin, may play a role. In this study, patients with mycosis fungoides or Sézary syndrome had very high counts of S. aureus on their skin. Taking an antibiotic decreased the bacteria along with the redness and swelling on their skin.

It’s also been suggested that working with glass, pottery, or ceramics may increase the risk of developing CTCL, but this has yet to be proven.

Researchers continue to look for what causes this rare cancer.

Jawed SI, Myskowski PL, et al. “Primary cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (mycosis fungoides and Sezary syndrome): Part I. Diagnosis: Clinical and histopathologic features and new molecular and biologic markers.” J Am Acad Dermatol2014;70:205.e1-16.

Wilcox RA. “Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma: 2017 update on diagnosis, risk-stratification, and management.” Am J Hematol. 2017 Oct;92(10):1085-1102.