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Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL): Current practices in blood assessment and the utility of T-cell receptor (TCR)-Vβ chain restriction

Author(s): Gibson JF, Huang J, Liu KJ, Carlson KR, Foss F, et al.



Accurate quantification of malignant cells in the peripheral blood of patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is important for early detection, prognosis, and monitoring disease burden.


We sought to determine the spectrum of current clinical practices; critically evaluate elements of current International Society for Cutaneous Lymphomas (ISCL) B1 and B2 staging criteria; and assess the potential role of T-cell receptor-Vβ analysis by flow cytometry.


We assessed current clinical practices by survey, and performed a retrospective analysis of 161 patients evaluated at Yale (2011-2014) to compare the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of parameters for ISCL B2 staging.


There was heterogeneity in clinical practices among institutions. ISCL B1 criteria did not capture 5 Yale cohort cases with immunophenotypic abnormalities that later progressed. T-cell receptor-Vβ testing was more specific than polymerase chain reaction and aided diagnosis in detecting clonality, but was of limited benefit in quantification of tumor burden.


Because of limited follow-up involving a single center, further investigation will be necessary to conclude whether our proposed diagnostic algorithm is of general clinical benefit.


We propose further study of modified B1 criteria: CD4/CD8 ratio 5 or greater, %CD4+ CD26− 20% or greater, or %CD4+ CD7− 20% or greater, with evidence of clonality. T-cell receptor-Vβ testing should be considered in future diagnostic and staging algorithms.

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