UChicago Medicine cutaneous lymphoma team
Members of the UChicago Medicine Cutaneous Lymphoma Center care team.

The University of Chicago Medicine Cutaneous Lymphoma Center provides comprehensive, personalized care for patients with cutaneous lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects the skin. Regional, national and international physicians feel confident referring their patients to our center because we offer the most advanced treatments and state-of-the-art diagnostic technologies. In addition, our physicians actively participate in research aimed at uncovering new approaches for improving our patients’ quality of life.

A Team of Experts

Due to its complexity, cutaneous lymphoma often involves care from a diverse team of specialists, including:

  • Dermatologists
  • Oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Transplant oncologists
  • Pathologists: dermatopathologists, hematopathologists and molecular pathologists

We understand that diagnosing cutaneous lymphoma can be a confusing and often frustrating process for patients. Our center’s dedication to integrated care means our physicians work together to identify your condition and develop an individual, efficient treatment plan for you. Our vast experience allows us to collaboratively guide our patients through their journey.

Research & Technology

Our center is committed to offering patients better treatment options. Scientific research and investigation increases our understanding of how to diagnose, treat and prevent lymphoma. Our pathologists use state-of-the-art laboratory testing to understand the cellular makeup of an individual's cancer cells. Our physicians use this knowledge to help pinpoint the most appropriate treatment for a patient's lymphoma.

This biological information is also being used as part of research into new treatments. Our Cutaneous Lymphoma Center actively participates in ongoing research at the University of Chicago’s Hoogland Lymphoma Biobank. This innovative program studies donated bio specimens, including blood and urine, in an effort to understand how genes, lifestyle and environment affect lymphoma. Our goal is to better understand how malignant lymphoma spreads and how it can be controlled.

Clinical Trials

As a leader in new cutaneous lymphoma therapies, our center participates in relevant clinical trials. Conducted under rigorous guidelines, these trials help us determine the benefits and risks of new and existing therapies. They also offer our patients innovative treatments that are not widely available. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, talk with your physician about whether you’d be a good fit for the available trials.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cutaneous Lymphoma

Cutaneous lymphoma is a sub-group of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that starts in white blood cells (lymphocytes) and affects the skin. Although symptoms depend on how far the cancer has spread and vary from patient to patient, common symptoms include scaly patches, plaques or bumps on the skin.

Cutaneous lymphoma affects either T-cell or B-cell lymphocyte cells.

The majority of patients we see have one of these types of T-cell cutaneous lymphoma:

  • Mycosis fungoides, which is the most common type of cutaneous lymphoma
  • Sezary syndrome, which is a more advanced variant of mycosis fungoides

However, our center evaluates and manages care for other cutaneous T- and B-cell lymphomas, including:

  • Lymphomatoid papulosis
  • Anaplastic large cell lymphoma
  • Subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma
  • Gamma-delta lymphoma
  • CD8+ aggressive epidermotropic T-cell lymphoma
  • NK/T-cell lymphoma

Cutaneous lymphoma can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms resemble other skin disorders, such as eczema, chronic dermatitis or psoriasis. Symptoms vary from patient to patient and sub-types of the disease often determine the course of treatment. Although it takes time, a proper diagnosis is key to informing a patient’s treatment path.

Diagnosis typically involves a review of the patient’s medical history, physical examinations, blood tests and skin biopsies. At your initial consultation, you will meet with various specialists, such as a dermatologist, oncologist and/or pathologist, who work together to determine the next steps in your treatment. If a skin biopsy is necessary, your physicians will walk you through what to expect and how to prepare.

We offer standard treatments as well as research-driven therapies. Treatment depends on several factors, including the patient’s age, lifestyle or other health conditions. We also consider your prior treatments and how you responded to them. Each patient’s treatment plan is developed by our cutaneous lymphoma team and is personalized to the patient’s needs.

Before your appointment at UChicago Medicine, our team will fully review your past medical information to determine which specialists you will need to meet with during your first visit. Typically you will meet with more than one specialist and could have multiple appointments on the first day.

In an effort to efficiently coordinate your appointments, we will need the following information prior to your visit:

  • Previous medical notes from your current physician(s), including dermatologist, oncologist and radiation oncologist
  • Previous biopsy reports as well as glass slides, which will be reviewed by a UChicago Medicine dermatopathologist and hematopathologist
  • Previous blood work
  • Previous imaging studies, such as CT or PET scans

At your initial consultation, you will meet with physicians of different medical disciplines for several assessments. After a day of evaluation, your physicians will collaboratively determine further care. Please allow 4-6 hours for your initial appointments.

Each specialist at our center is an expert in a certain area of medicine. By working together, our patients benefit from all of our expertise. Although it’s not easy to have multiple appointments in one day, it allows our physicians to efficiently develop the best treatment plan for you. Also, many of our patients do not live near our medical center. Meeting with multiple specialists saves you from needing to make several visits.

We understand that your first visit can feel intimidating. The best way to prepare for your consultation is to be informed. As you review our content, please bring a list of any questions you have to your first visit. Our physicians are happy to discuss your questions or concerns at any point in your care.

You play an important role on your care team. To make sure you receive the best care:

  • Know which medications you take and bring a list with you to appointments
  • Become familiar with your medical history and your family’s medical history
  • Be honest about any concerns you have. We know this can be a tough journey and want to support you. Let us know how we can help.

If you are interested in participating in clinical trials, talk to your physician about what trials are available and if you would be a good fit.