Peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified (PTCL-NOS)
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What are peripheral T-cell lymphomas, not otherwise specified?
Symptoms of peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified
Causes of peripheral T-cell lymphomas, not otherwise specified
Diagnosis of peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified
The stages and grades of peripheral T-cell lymphomas, not otherwise specified
Treatment for peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified
After treatment for peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified
Support for people with peripheral T-cell lymphomas, not otherwise specified
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Peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCLs) are a group of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). PTCLs develop when T-cells become abnormal (cancerous). T-cells are white blood cells that normally help fight infection. They are sometimes called T-lymphocytes.
There are different types of PTCL. Each type has different characteristics and behaves in a different way.
Any PTCL that does not fit into one of the types is grouped with others similar to it and called a peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified (PTCL-NOS). The lymphomas in this group are not all the same. But they develop in a similar way and are treated in the same way.
PTCL-NOS are fast growing. The abnormal T-cells (lymphoma cells) usually build up in lymph nodes, but they can affect other parts of the body.
For healthcare professionals
If you are a healthcare professional, use our guide to find the right information and support for your patients affected by lymphoma. This explains the support available from Macmillan and from other trusted organisations.
Painless swelling in neck, armpit or groin
This is the most common sign of PTCL-NOS. It is caused by lymphoma cells building up in the lymph nodes, which makes them bigger. Often, lymph nodes in more than one part of the body are affected.
Some people also have symptoms that doctors call B symptoms. These can include:
- drenching night sweats which require a change of nightwear and bed covers
- high temperatures (fevers) with no obvious cause
- unexplained weight loss.
Knowing if you have any B symptoms will help your doctor to stage the lymphoma and plan your treatment.
The causes of peripheral T-cell lymphomas, not otherwise specified (PTCL-NOS), are mostly unknown. PTCL-NOS mainly affects adults in their 60s. They are more common in men than women.
Like other cancers, PTCL-NOS is not infectious. It cannot be passed on to other people.
We have more information about causes and risk factors of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The most common test for diagnosing lymphoma is a biopsy. A doctor will take a sample of tissue from the affected area. The most common place to take a biopsy from is an enlarged lymph node. This is called a lymph node biopsy. You may have all or a part of the lymph node removed. The tissue will be sent to a laboratory for testing. You may also have biopsies taken from other areas of your body.
You can find out more about further tests you may have in our information about non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Waiting for test results can be difficult. You may find it helpful to talk to your family, friends or specialist nurse.
Booklets and resources
Your test results will help your doctors find out how many areas of your body are affected by lymphoma and where these areas are. This is called staging.
Lymphomas are also grouped as either low-grade or high-grade. Low-grade lymphomas are usually slow growing. High-grade lymphomas usually grow more quickly. Peripheral T-cell lymphomas, not otherwise specified (PTCL-NOS) are high-grade lymphomas and normally develop quickly.
We have more information about the stages and grades of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
A team of specialists will meet to discuss the best possible treatment for you. They are called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).
Your doctor, cancer specialist or nurse will explain the different treatments and their side effects to you. They will also talk to you about things to consider when treatment decisions.
Treatment for peripheral T-cell lymphomas, not otherwise specified (PTCL-NOS) depends on the stage of the lymphoma and whether you have symptoms that are causing problems.
The most common treatments for PTCL-NOS are:
Stem cell transplants
If chemotherapy has treated the PTCL-NOS effectively, some people will then have stem cell treatment. This may also be used to treat PTCL-NOS that has come back. It is an intensive treatment, so it is not suitable for everyone. You may have a transplant using your own stem cells (autologous stem cell transplant) or cells from a donor (allogeneic stem cell transplant).
Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to nearby healthy normal cells cells. Radiotherapy only treats the area of the body that the rays are aimed at.
Some people have radiotherapy after chemotherapy to treat an area of lymphoma. This can treat any remaining lymphoma cells in the area. It can also reduce the risk of lymphoma coming back in the area. Radiotherapy is also sometimes given to treat symptoms such as pain.
You may have some treatments as part of a clinical trial.
Treatment may make all signs of the PTCL-NOS disappear. This is called remission. But PTCL-NOS may come back. This is called recurrence or relapse. If this happens, further treatment can usually be given.
We have more information about treating lymphoma that has come back.
People often have many different feelings when they finish lymphoma treatment. You may feel relieved that treatment has finished, but worried about what will happen in the future.
You will have appointments with your lymphoma doctor or nurse less often than before. But at the same time, you may have new challenges to cope with and things to think about.
We have information below about some of the things people ask about after lymphoma treatment. But you may have other questions or need information about something else. If there is something you want to talk about at any point after treatment, you can:
Side effects of lymphoma treatment
You may have some ongoing side effects as you recover from lymphoma treatment. You can use our impacts of cancer A-Z to search for information about managing different symptoms and side effects. Or find out more about side effects of treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma or treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Tiredness and fatigue
Sometimes side effects may continue or develop months or years after treatment. These are called late effects. We have more information about long-term and late effects of treatment for lymphoma.
Well-being and recovery
It can take time to recover after lymphoma treatment. Some days you may feel better than others.
It is important to know where to get support or information if you need it. People often need support even some time after lymphoma treatment. But sometimes it is difficult to know who to ask for help. To find support:
- ask your GP or someone from your cancer team for advice about support in your area
- search cancercaremap.org to find cancer support services near you
- call us free on 0808 808 0000 or talk to us online - our cancer information and support specialists can offer guidance and help you find what you need.
Our course Help to Overcome Problems Effectively (HOPE) helps people during and after cancer treatment. It is a free, interactive, group based, self management support course. It runs for 6 weeks, with each weekly session lasting 2.5 hours. To find out more about HOPE courses in your area, email ServiceOpsSupport@macmillan.org.uk
A healthy lifestyle can help speed up your recovery. Even small lifestyle changes may improve your well-being and long-term health.
Booklets and resources
Talk to someone about peripheral T-cell lymphomas, not otherwise specified
Everyone has their own way of dealing with illness and the different emotions they experience. You may find it helpful to talk things over with family and friends or your doctor or nurse.
Macmillan is also here to support you. If you would like to talk, you can:
More information and advice
We know cancer can affect you physically, emotionally and financially. We have information and advice about different ways cancer might impact you, such as help with:
Booklets and resources
Other organisations who offer information and support
The organisations below also offer information and support:
Blood Cancer UK
Supporting someone with lymphoma
When someone you know is diagnosed with lymphoma, it can be difficult to know how to support them. You may want information to help you understand what they are going through. Or you may be worried about what to say.
We have information to help with the practical, emotional and financial impacts of supporting someone. You can also talk to us by:
Booklets and resources
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We also provide information in a range of languages and formats. If you cannot find the information you are looking for in the format or language you need, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Find our non-Hodgkin lymphoma booklet ebook and pdf
If you prefer a pdf, ePub or Mobi version, our Understanding non-Hodgkin lymphoma booklet is available in these formats.
Booklets and resources
Find non-Hodgkin lymphoma information in your language
We have a range of translated cancer information. This includes information about different cancer types, being diagnosed, cancer treatment, and side effects. We have some lymphoma information in the following languages. You can also search our most up to date list of web pages we have translated on request.
- Bulgarian - Mantle cell lymphoma / Мантелноклетъчен лимфом [PDF]
- German - Follicular lymphoma / Follikuläres Lymphom (FL) [PDF]
- Polish - Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) / Chłoniak rozlany z dużych komórek B [PDF]
- Polish - Lymphoma / Chłoniak [PDF]
- Slovak - Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) / Anaplastický veľkobunkový lymfóm [PDF]
- Slovak - Follicular lymphoma / Folikulový lymfóm [PDF]
- Tamil - Follicular lymphoma [PDF]
If you would like any of our lymphoma information translated into your language, please email email@example.com
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Below is a sample of the sources used in our peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified (PTCL-NOS) information below. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Blood and bone marrow cancers. NICE Pathways. Last accessed 3 December 2020.
d’Amore. F, Gaulard. P et al. Peripheral T-cell lymphomas: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Volume 26, supplement 5, V108-V115. Published 01st September 2015. Available here: Peripheral T-cell lymphomas: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up - Annals of Oncology
Schmitz M and de Leval L. How I manage peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified and angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma: current practice and a glimpse into the future British Journal of Haematology. 2017. 176, 851–866.
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Anne Parker, Consultant Haematologist.
Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.