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8

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

Peripheral T-cell Lymphoma, Version 1.2016

What is PTCL?

Cancer is a disease of cells. Lymphomas are

cancers that start in lymphocytes within the lymphatic

system. There are two main types of lymphomas.

Hodgkin lymphoma is defined by the presence of

Reed-Sternberg or related cells. Non-Hodgkin’s

lymphoma includes all the other types of lymphoma.

Peripheral T-cell lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin’s

lymphoma.

Peripheral T-cell lymphoma is a cancer of T-cells.

There are many types of T-cells and thus, many T-cell

cancers. T-cells differ from one another based on the

cell’s stage of development and what job the T-cells

do.

Very early forms (precursors) of T-cells are made

in bone marrow. They travel from the marrow to the

thymus to become mature T-cells. When T-cells are

ready to help fight illness, they leave the thymus and

travel to other lymph tissue, such as the lymph nodes.

Peripheral T-cell lymphoma starts from T-cells that

have left the thymus.

Inside of cells are coded instructions for building

new cells and controlling how cells behave. These

instructions are called genes. Genes are a part

of DNA (

d

eoxyribo

n

ucleic

a

cid), which is grouped

together into bundles called chromosomes.

See

Figure 1.2.

Abnormal changes (mutations) in genes

cause normal B-cells to become cancer cells.

Researchers are still trying to learn what causes

genes to mutate and cause cancer.

Cancer cells don’t behave like normal cells. First, the

mutations cause cancer cells to grow more quickly

and live longer than normal cells. Normal cells grow

and then divide to form new cells when needed.

They also die when old or damaged as shown in

Figure 1.3.

In contrast, cancer cells make new cells

that aren’t needed and don’t die quickly when old or

damaged. Over time, the lymphoma cells may build

up in tissues and may travel in blood or lymph to

other sites. Without treatment, the cancer may cause

organs not to work.

1

PTCL basics

What is PTCL?