Mar Vista Animal Medical Center

3850 Grand View Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

(310)391-6741

www.marvistavet.com

LYMPHOMA IN THE SKIN
(Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
Cutaneous Epitheliotropic Lymphoma)

Lymphoma can arise in any organ that contains lymph tissue (which turns out to be just about anywhere in the body). While lymphoma generally occurs in lymph nodes and in organs with substantial lymphatic system presence, occasionally lymphoma arises in the skin. Skin forms of lymphoma are often itchy and rashy and thus are readily mistaken for allergic dermatitis. Superficial skin infections are common with skin lymphoma as well as with most other dermatitis cases, which compounds the difficulty in making the correct diagnosis. Biopsy is needed to get the correct diagnosis.

  

THREE TYPES:
MYCOSIS FUNGOIDES, SEZARY SYNDROME, AND PAGETOID RETICULOSIS

MYCOSIS FUNGOIDES
This sounds like it should be a benign fungal infection but unfortunately, it is a very malignant cancer so named because the skin tumors are thought to resemble mushrooms. As mentioned, it can look like a skin infection with nodules and frequently goes unrecognized until it fails to respond to the usual skin-oriented antibiotics and is biopsied.

Mycosis Fungoides
with lots of nodules.

(Photocredit: Neal Saslow DVM
and Veterinary Information Network
)
Same cancer but without the nodules
it looks more like a bad infection.

(Photocredit: Marina Siegert DVM
and Veterinary Information Network)
Oral Mycosis Fungoides
(Photocredit: Erin Trimmier DVM
and Veterinary Information Network)

  

An oral form also exists where the gums become inflamed and ulcerated. This could also be mistaken for any number of oral diseases and, again, biopsy is needed to find the truth.

SEZARY SYNDROME (A VERY RARE COMPLICATION)
Mycosis fungoides can progress to what is called “Sezary syndrome.” Here, the skin cancer advances into the bloodstream to create leukemia. The cancer cells in the blood are not like other leukemia cells and are called “Sezary cells.” This complication almost never happens in dogs but happens in approximately 5% of humans with mycosis fungoides so the term may come up if one conducts internet research.

PAGETOID RETICULOSIS
The only difference between pagetoid reticulosis and mycosis fungoides is seen on biopsy. Pagetoid reticulosis is a more superficial form of skin lymphoma which does not penetrate to deeper skin structures. It can be localized to one area of the skin or to large areas of skin.

  

PROGNOSIS

Most pets succomb to euthanasia when there are too many ulcerated growths, too much intractable itching or the infections cannot be control. Variable survival times have been reported in different studies but prognosis is generally regarded as poor, with 6 months for dogs and perhaps 10 months for cats, being a good goal. (This contrasts to the human form of the disease which is much more readily controlled with chemotherapy). For many patients, the goal of chemotherapy is not to achieve a longer survival but to improve life quality during a relatively short survival.

 

TREATMENTS

Aside from chemotherapy regimens a few less conventional methods have emerged.

  • Retinoids
    Skin lymphoma cells appear to have receptors for synthetic vitamin A derivatives. Median survival times have been increased with retinoids.

  • Safflower Oil
    The Hollywood brand of safflower oil (apparently the Hain brand does not work) was given to 6 out of 8 dogs who had lost remission from conventional treatment and were able to achieve remission with no other therapy.

  • Rabacfosadine
    This is a new medication recently approved for lymphoma treatment in the dog. When combined with prednisolone, 45% of dogs with this condition achieved at least partial remission.


About Lymphoma
(Lymphoma Center Home Page)


What is Lymphoma?


Lymphoma in Dogs


Lymphoma in Cats

Lymphoma in the Skin
(this page)
Common Lymphoma
Chemotherapy Medications
Nutritional Therapy
Beyond Drugs

Page posted: 4/15/2021