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Angioimmunoblastic lymphoma

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

What it is

There are many different types of NHL. Doctors can tell which type you have by looking at the lymphoma cells under the microscope. This is a type of peripheral T-cell lymphoma.

Angioimmunoblastic lymphoma is a high grade (aggressive) lymphoma that affects blood cells called T cells. It is also called angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL).

High grade lymphomas tend to grow more quickly than low grade lymphomas. 

Who gets it

AITL is rare. People diagnosed with AITL tend to be older.

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

Your usually have a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy (chemoimmunotherapy). The most common combination is R-CHOP (rituximab, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, dexamethasone). 

Or sometimes doctors treat this type of lymphoma with steroids alone.

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). Some people may then have a very high dose of 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

Coping with NHL

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

Last reviewed: 
05 Feb 2018
  • Outcomes following front-line chemotherapy in peripheral T-cell lymphoma: 10-year experience at The Royal Marsden and The Christie Hospital

    M Gleeson and others 

    Leukaemia and lymphoma, 2017. Volume 9 pages 1-10

  • Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma: the many-faced lymphoma

    M Lunning and J Vose 

    Blood, 2017. 2;129(9) pages 1095-1102

  • The survival outcome of patients with relapsed/refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma-not otherwise specified and angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma

    D Chihara and others 

    British Journal of Haematology, 2017. Volume 176(5) pages 750-758

  • LCA Haemato-Oncology Clinical Guidelines  Lymphoid Malignancies Part 5: Less Common Lymphoid Malignancies 

    London Cancer Alliance, 2015

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: diagnosis and management

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2016

  • 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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