Cutaneous Malt Lymphoma

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Cutaneous MALT lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, targeting b-cell lymphocytes. MALT lymphomas attack mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue, and cutaneous MALT lymphoma specifically targets the skin, especially the second layer of skin. It is a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and is sometimes referred to as extranodal marginal zone B cell lymphoma.

Demographics

MALT lymphomas are relatively rare, comprising only eight percent of all b-cell lymphomas. The cutaneous sub-type is even rarer. There is no evidence to suggest a higher prevalence among any particular ethnic or cultural group.

Symptoms

Cutaneous MALT lymphoma is characterized by a nodule under the skin, a bright red rash, or a lump on the skin with a mushroom-like appearance. These are present most often in the extremities. It affects men and women equally, and there seems to be a relationship between MALT lymphomas in general and persons with autoimmune disorders, especially Sjorgren's syndrome or Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

Diagnosis

A doctor will typically attempt to diagnose cutaneous MALT lymphoma with a biopsy of the skin lesions. There is also research linking the disease to the presence of the H. pylori bacteria and, in the particular case of the cutaneous type, B. burgdorferi, so the oncologist may also test for those, although the link with the former is less pronounced in the cutaneous type of lymphoma.

The vast majority of MALT lymphomas are diagnosed as stage IE, meaning the cancer was discovered early in stage one and carries a very low rate of mortality

Treatment

Because cutaneous MALT lymphoma tends to be highly localized, it can typically be treated with radiation therapy or with surgery. Cutaneous MALT lymphoma is somewhat unique among MALT lymphomas in that it is more responsive to antibiotic treatments with may remove underlying bacterial causes. Chemotherapy is an option is the disease has spread beyond its origin, or if it has proven refractory on antibiotics.

Prognosis

Because cutaneous MALT lymphoma is slowing growing and tends to remain highly localized, prognosis is generally positive. Assuming the disease has not become systemic, radiation and surgery may both be curative. Local reoccurrence does happen, but it is extremely rare for this form of cancer to spread beyond its point of origin. For these reasons, the rate of survival at five years is 97 percent. Some sources place the disease free ten year survival rate at 77 percent.

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