Cutaneous lymphomas other than mycosis fungoides in Singapore: a clinicopathological analysis using recent classification systems

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Cutaneous lymphomas other than mycosis fungoides (MF) are a heterogeneous group with wide variations in clinical presentation, biological behaviour and prognosis. New classification systems have been designed or proposed in recent years, with well-defined disease entities and emphasis on the importance of site.


This study aims to analyse a series of non-MF lymphomas in an institution-based dermatological setting in Singapore, based on the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) classification and the World Health Organization (WHO) classification. A secondary objective is to highlight the clinical utility of both classification systems.

Patients and methods

Forty cases diagnosed over a 12-year period were examined by immunohistochemistry with antibodies targeting CD3, CD4, CD5, CD8, CD20, CD30, CD43, CD45RO, CD56 and CD68 in paraffin-embedded specimens. The immunohistological diagnosis was correlated with the clinical presentation and staging investigations for the final diagnosis and the course of disease recorded.


Non-MF T-cell lymphomas presenting in the skin comprised 31 cases (78%) and were 3½ times more common than B-cell lymphomas, which comprised nine cases (22%). The common subtypes were lymphomatoid papulosis, CD30+ large cell cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma. The commonly ascribed B-cell pattern with infiltrates in the mid and deep dermis and perivascular spaces was seen in 60% of T-cell lymphomas. Overall, there were equal numbers of primary cutaneous T-cell lymphomas and those due to concurrent or secondary cutaneous lymphoma. Five of six cases of subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma had concurrent cutaneous and systemic involvement and their median survival was 7 months.


The predominance of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas in this case series closely matched that reported from east Asia; cutaneous B-cell lymphomas are much less common than in Europe. The EORTC classification, which is designed only for primary cutaneous lymphomas, should be used in conjunction with the WHO classification because of the high prevalence of cutaneous lymphomas as the secondary site of disease from systemic lymphoma. In addition, subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma is a primary cutaneous lymphoma where systemic involvement is common at initial presentation. We propose full immunophenotyping and complete clinical evaluation with staging investigations for all patients presenting with cutaneous lymphomas other than MF.

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