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Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Volume 72, n° 2
page 293 (février 2015)
Doi : 10.1016/j.jaad.2014.10.006
accepted : 2 October 2014
Original Articles

Cutaneous manifestations of human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type-1-associated adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma: A single-center, retrospective study

Michael A. Marchetti, MD a, Melissa P. Pulitzer, MD c, Patricia L. Myskowski, MD a, d, Stephen W. Dusza, DrPH a, Matthew A. Lunning, DO b, Steven M. Horwitz, MD b, d, Alison J. Moskowitz, MD b, d, Christiane Querfeld, MD, PhD a, d,
a Dermatology Service, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 
b Lymphoma Service, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 
c Dermatopathology Service, Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 
d Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York 

Reprint requests: Christiane Querfeld, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 160 E 53 St, New York, NY 10022.

Limited data exist regarding cutaneous involvement of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL), particularly in the United States.


We sought to characterize clinical and histopathologic features of ATLL in patients with skin involvement.


We retrospectively identified patients with ATLL from a single institution given a diagnosis during a 15-year period (1998-2013). Patients were categorized by the Shimoyama classification and stratified into skin-first, skin-second, and skin-uninvolved courses.


The study population included 17 skin-first, 8 skin-second, and 29 skin-uninvolved cases. Skin-first patients (6 acute, 1 lymphoma, 4 chronic, 6 smoldering) were overwhelmingly of Caribbean origin (94%). They had longer median symptom duration (11.9 vs 1.9 months, P < .001) and overall survival (26.7 vs 10.0 months, P < .001) compared with skin-second/skin-uninvolved patients. Cutaneous lesion morphology at diagnosis included nodulotumoral (35%), multipapular (24%), plaques (24%), patches (12%), and erythroderma (6%). After initial skin biopsy, 14 of 17 received a non-ATLL diagnosis, most commonly mycosis fungoides (47%). Notable histopathologic findings from 43 biopsy specimens included greater than or equal to 20:1 CD4:CD8 ratio (79%), angiocentrism (78%), CD25+ (71%), large cell morphology (70%), CD30+ (68%), epidermal infiltration of atypical lymphocytes (67%) forming large Pautrier-like microabscesses (55%), and folliculotropism (65%).


This was a retrospective, single-center, tertiary referral center study with small sample size.


Skin-first patients with ATLL in the United States are diagnostically challenging. Familiarity with clinicopathologic features may aid in diagnosis.

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

Key words : adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, CD25 expression, CD30 expression, human T-cell lymphotropic virus type-1, large cell morphology, immunophenotyping, Pautrier-like microabscesses, skin manifestations

Abbreviations used : ATLL, HTLV-1, OS

 Dr Querfeld is a Ted Schwartz Scholar.
 Funding sources: None.
 Conflicts of interest: None declared.

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