Signs and Symptoms of Skin Lymphoma

Lymphomas of the skin can be seen and felt. They can appear as:

  • Papules (small, pimple-like lesions)
  • Patches (flat lesions)
  • Plaques (thick, raised or lowered lesions)
  • Nodules or tumors (larger lumps or bumps under the skin)

The lesions are often itchy, scaly, and red to purple. The lymphoma might show up as more than one type of lesion and on different parts of the skin (often in areas not exposed to the sun). Some skin lymphomas appear as a rash over some or most of the body (known as erythroderma). Sometimes larger lesions can break open (ulcerate).

Along with skin problems, in rare cases lymphoma of the skin can cause general symptoms, such as:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Profuse sweating (enough to soak clothing), particularly at night
  • Severe itchiness

Sometimes a skin lymphoma can reach the lymph nodes (small, bean-sized collections of immune cells), which can make them bigger. An enlarged lymph node might be felt as a lump under the skin in the neck, underarm, or groin area.

Most of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other, less serious conditions. Still, if you have any of them it's important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

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Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Foss FM, Gibson JF, Edelson RL, Wilson LD. Chapter 104: Cutaneous lymphomas. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

Querfeld C, Rosen ST. Chapter 107: Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and cutaneous B-cell lymphoma. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Dorshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Elsevier: 2014.

Last Medical Review: March 29, 2018 Last Revised: March 29, 2018

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