Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), and one of the subtypes of T cellA type of white blood cell that participates in immune responses by destroying harmful substances or cells. lymphoma. ALCL comprises about one percent of all NHLs and approximately 16 percent of all T cell lymphomas.

A diagnosis of ALCL requires taking a biopsyRemoval of a small piece of tissue for evaluation under a microscope. (small sample of tumorAn abnormal mass or swelling of tissue, that can occur  anywhere in the body. tissue or abnormal skin tissue) and looking at the cells under a microscope. Additional tests may be conducted to give physicians more information about the disease and how far it has spread in the body. These can include blood tests, a CTComputed tomography (CT). This imaging test provides a series of detailed picutres of inside the body using an X-ray machine linked to a computer. scan, a PETA test that evaluates metabolic activity in different parts of the body using radioisotope. scan, a MRIA test using magnets and radio frequency waves to prodcue images of inside the body. scan, and bone marrowSpongy material found inside the bones containing stem cells that develop into three types of cells: red blood cells that deliver oxygen to the body and take away carbon dioxide; white blood cells that protect the body from infection; and platelets biopsy.

Cutaneous vs. Systemic ALCL

ALCL can initially appear either in the skin, the lymph nodesSmall bean-shaped glands located in the small vessels of the lymphatic system. There are thousands of lymph nodes located throughout the body, with clusters of them in the neck, under the arms, the chest, abdomen and groin. Lymph nodes filter lymph fluid, trapping and destroying potentially harmful bacteria and viruses., or in organs throughout the body. ALCL that appears in the skin is most often called primary cutaneous ALCL, and it typically has a less aggressiveLymphomas that are fast growing and generally need to be treated immediately. Also called intermediate-grade or high-grade lymphomas. disease course than the systemic type. The characteristic features of primary cutaneous ALCL include the appearance of solitary or multiple raised, red skin lesions that do not go away, have a tendency to ulcerate, and may itch. Only about 10 percent of the time does primary cutaneous ALCL extend beyond the skin to lymphThe watery fluid in the lymph system that contains white blood cells (lymphocytes). nodes or organs. If this occurs, it is usually treated like systemic ALCL.

Patients with systemic ALCL are divided into two groups: ALK-positive and ALK-negative ALCL. Although both systemic lymphomas are treated as aggressive lymphomas, the disease course may be different. ALK-positive ALCL responds well to standard chemotherapy treatments, putting most patients into long-term remissionThe absence of disease. Remission does not necessarily indicate that a person is cured. Patients may have complete or partial remission.. In contrast, while most people with ALK-negative ALCL initially respond to treatment as well, the disease is more likely to relapseA disease that reappears or grows again after a period of remission. (disease returns after treatment) within five years. Sometimes, ALK-negative patients are treated more aggressively, often with a stem cell transplant after remission. While ALK-positive ALCL usually affects children and young adults, ALK-negative ALCL is more common in patients over the age of 55 years.

To learn more about ALCL, download the Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma Fact Sheet.