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J Dermatol. 1999 Dec;26(12):785-90.

Clinicopathologic analysis of 124 cases of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma with cutaneous manifestations: the smouldering type with skin manifestations has a poorer prognosis than previously thought.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Japan.


Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) commonly involves the skin as well as peripheral blood and lymph nodes. During the last 15 years we have studied 124 cases of ATLL with specific skin manifestations. Twenty-one patients (16.9%) were classified as acute, 21 (16.9%) as chronic, 26 (21.0%) as lymphoma, and 56 (45.2%) as smouldering according to Shimoyama's classification. Many patients had nodules/tumors (34.7%), erythematous plaques (22.6%), and erythematous papules (19.4%) similar to those occurring with other cutaneous T-cell lymphomas. Some patients displayed characteristic skin manifestations resembling non-neoplastic cutaneous disorders. The median survival time (MST) of all patients was 12.0 months. The MSTs of individual clinical types were: acute type, 4 months; chronic type, 14 months; lymphoma type, 7 months; and smouldering type, 16 months. In the smouldering type, cases with a deeper infiltration pattern (MST, 14 months) had a more aggressive course than those with a superficial infiltration pattern (MST, 24 months) (p < 0.05). The results indicate that smouldering type ATLL with skin manifestations may have a worse prognosis than without skin manifestations. Moreover, some cases of the smouldering type with specific skin lesions should be classified into another group with a much poorer prognosis.

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