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Angioimmunoblastic lymphoma

This page is about angioimmunoblastic lymphoma. 

Angioimmunoblastic lymphoma is a rare type of non Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). It accounts for between 1 and 4 out of every 100 cases of NHL (1 to 4%).

There are many different types of non Hodgkin lymphoma. Doctors can tell which type people have by looking at the cells under a microscope. Angioimmunoblastic lymphoma is a high grade (aggressive) lymphoma that affects blood cells called T cells. It is also called angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma or AITL. People diagnosed with AITL tend to be older. Both men and women are affected in about the same numbers.

People with AITL usually have a number of swollen lymph nodes. They may also have a high temperature (fever), itching and weight loss. And AITL can cause symptoms such as skin rashes or inflammation of the joints. This is because the cancerous T cells produce abnormal proteins that the body reacts to (known as an autoimmune reaction).

AITL is diagnosed by taking a biopsy of an enlarged lymph node. The cells are then looked at under a microscope.

Sometimes doctors treat this type of lymphoma with steroids alone. But the treatment doctors use most often is a combination of chemotherapy drugs such as CHOP or fludarabine and cytarabine. Chemotherapy can shrink down the lymphoma and may get rid of it completely for many people. But it is quite common for the lymphoma to come back after treatment (relapse). Some people may then have a very high dose of chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant.

Researchers are looking at the drugs thalidomide and bevacizumab to help treat AITL. But these treatments are still experimental for this type of NHL at the moment.

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Updated: 12 November 2012