Anaplastic large cell lymphoma

Overview

Type of disease: Rare conditions

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), which is a kind of blood cancer, that involves abnormal T-cells (please also visit: Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.). T cells are a type of white blood cell in your body that help fight diseases. These abnormal T-cells may build up in the lymph nodes (small oval-shaped immune system organs) causing them to swell. Common symptoms include painless swelling in the neck, armpit, or groin due to the enlarged lymph nodes. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, tiredness, night sweats, fevers, or weight loss. ALCL can initially appear in either skin, lymph nodes or other organs throughout the body. When it appears in the skin, it is called primary cutaneous ALCL and has a less aggressive disease course. ALCL is diagnosed through the examination of any enlarged lymph nodes. Further inspection may be required through a biopsy in which doctors will remove the lymph node itself. Other tests include bone marrow samples, blood tests, x-rays or scans. ALCL is divided into two types at present, depending on whether or not their cells have an abnormal form of a protein on their surface called “anaplastic lymphoma kinase” (ALK). ALK- positive ALCL is considered more likely to affect children or young adults and responds well to standard chemotherapy treatments, putting most patients in long-term remission. ALK-negative ALCL more likely affects individuals over 60 and although it responds well to treatment at first, it is more likely to return. The causes of ALCL are currently unknown. However, it is neither infectious nor can it be passed on to other people. The main treatment for ALCL is chemotherapy, but radiotherapy and/or stem cell treatment may be recommended. Talk to your doctor to see if you or a family member has been diagnosed with this condition to find the most current treatment options available.

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