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How is cutaneous lymphoma diagnosed and what kinds of tests should I expect?


Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) can be difficult to diagnose in early stages as the signs and symptoms and skin biopsy findings can be similar to other skin conditions. Initial diagnosis of CTCL is frequently delayed as definitive findings can be slow to evolve and confused with other skin conditions -- often for many years. Both the clinical picture (based on both history and examination) and the skin biopsy findings are essential for diagnosis.

To obtain a proper diagnosis, your physician will examine your skin, lymph nodes and order blood tests including a test for Sézary cells in the blood. Other screening tests such as a chest x-ray or CT scan may be indicated depending on the patient’s history and exam.

Click here to view/download our Spring 2011 newsletter, which contains a feature article entitled “Obtaining a Proper Diagnosis: It’s More Than Skin Deep,” which was expertly written by Steven Horwitz, MD, Assistant Attending Physician, Lymphoma Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

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