Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma

Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

There are many different types of NHL. Doctors can tell which type you have by looking at the lymphoma cells under the microscope. AITL is a type of peripheral T-cell lymphoma. It is a high grade (aggressive) lymphoma that affects blood cells called T cells. 

High grade lymphomas tend to grow more quickly than low grade lymphomas. AITL usually affects older people, typically around the age of 70. 

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • a number of swollen lymph nodes
  • a high temperature (fever)
  • itching
  • weight loss.

AITL can also 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).

Getting diagnosed

Your doctor diagnoses AITL by taking a sample (biopsy) of an enlarged lymph node. A specialist doctor then looks at the cells under a microscope. You might also have some other tests such as blood tests.

Treatment

You usually have a combination of chemotherapy drugs called CHOP  (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, dexamethasone). 

Chemotherapy can shrink 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). You might be offered high dose chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant. 

Researchers are looking at other drugs to see if they could be used for this type of NHL in the future:

  • romidepsin
  • belinostat

Sometimes doctors treat this type of lymphoma with steroids alone. This is called palliative treatment. 

Coping with NHL

Advice and support is available to help you cope with NHL and its treatment.

Last reviewed: 
01 Dec 2020
Next review due: 
01 Dec 2023
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    Leukemia, 2020. Volume 34, pages 2592–2606 

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  • The information on this page is based on literature searches and specialist checking. We used many references and there are too many to list here. Please contact patientinformation@cancer.org.uk with details of the particular issue you are interested in if you need additional references for this information.

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