Diagnosis and Staging
The most common sign of NHL is one or more enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin. Enlarged lymph nodes also can be near the ears or elbow. Some of these symptoms are similar to those of a cold, the flu or some other respiratory infection. Most people who have these non-specific symptoms will not have lymphoma.
However, it is important that anyone with persistent symptoms be examined by a doctor to make sure lymphoma is not present. To diagnose PTCL, physicians will need to conduct a number of tests to distinguish between T-cell and B-cell lymphoma and to determine the PTCL subtype. Confirmation of the diagnosis will require a tissue biopsy rather than a needle biopsy.
How is PTCL different from other types of lymphoma?
Compared with B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphomas, PTCL is more likely to present with cancer cells that have spread beyond the lymph nodes to skin and other organs and bone marrow. It may also have a more aggressive clinical course.
PTCL versus CTCL
PTCLs are distinct entities from CTCLs and follow a different clinical course. While some PTCL may present with skin involvement, CTCLs originate in and are characterized primarily by localization of neoplastic T lymphocytes to the skin. CTCLs primarily follow an indolent course of disease, while PTCLs are more aggressive.