It is nearly impossible to talk about a survival rate for T cell lymphomas because there are so many subtypes of T cell lymphoma, and in some cases the prognoses of these diseases couldn't be more different.
Thus, in addressing the T cell lymphoma survival rate, we will take a brief look at the broad groups of T cell lymphomas: Those that affect the T cells within the body (peripheral) and those that affect the T cells but originate in the skin (cutaneous).
Peripheral T Cell Lymphoma Survival Rate
Peripheral T cell lymphoma (PTCL) refers to a handful of T cell lymphoma subtypes that originate in the T cells of the lymphatic system. They represent anywhere from 10-15% of all lymphoid cancers.
With the exception of anaplastic large T cell lymphoma (ALCL), most PTCLs have an aggressive clinical course and a rather poor prognosis. Such subtypes include T cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) and adult T cell leukemia lymphoma (ATLL), both of which can often lead to death within months of diagnosis. However, it should be noted that these two diseases are extremely rare, especially in the United States. In the case of ALCL, this disease has been divided into two further types, ALCL ALK+ and ALCL ALK- (a pathologist must determine which subtype each patient has). Patients with ALCL ALK+ have a much better prognosis and tend to respond to first line therapy, with a 5-year survival rate of as high as 91% in some cases. Patients with ALCL ALK- however do not have as encouraging a prognosis, with a survival rate of less than half of that reported in ALK+ patients.
Natural Killer / T cell lymphomas are PTCLs that have a notoriously aggressive clinical course, and they are associated with a very poor prognosis. In some instances the survival rate from this type of T cell lymphoma is measured in months, not years.
Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma Survival Rate
T cell lymphomas that originate in the skin, known as primary cutaneous T cell lymphomas, tend to have a higher survival rate and better prognosis than other T cell lymphomas.
In mycosis fungoides, the most common CTCL, the survival rate has been found to be highly dependent upon when the disease is discovered. For early-stage disease, 5-year survival rates can be as high as 97%, while for the most advanced stage of disease, that survival rate drops to 41%.
In the second most common CTCL, known as primary cutaneous CD30+ large cell lymphoma (PCLCL), patients can look forward to an excellent prognosis, with 5-year survival rates landing somewhere between 80-90%.
In conclusion it should be clear to the reader that the T cell lymphoma survival rate varies widely because the term 'T cell lymphoma' itself refers to so many different subtypes of lymphoma with so many different outcomes. Determining the subtype is crucial in ascertaining the survival rate for a specific T cell lymphoma.
- Dearden CE et al. Peripheral T cell lymphomas: diagnosis and management. Hematol Oncol Clin N Am 17(2003); 1351-1366
- Demierre M et al. Prognosis, clinical outcomes and quality of life issues in cutaneous T cell lymphoma. Hematol Oncol Clin N Am, 17(2003) 1485-1507