Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, an aggressive T-cell neoplasm, is causally linked to human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 and based on this association has a distinct geographic distribution. In our United States-based practice, whose population is enriched for immigrants from human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 endemic areas, we have identified that a subset of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, in the absence of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 identification, are indistinguishable from other more common T-cell neoplasms. We retrospectively gathered serology results for anti-human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1/2 antibody in patients diagnosed with T-cell neoplasms at our institution. A total of 220 human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1/2 positive patients with T-cell neoplasms were identified; 199 (91%) were correctly classified as adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma or provisionally as peripheral T-cell lymphoma (serology testing pending). Twenty-one cases (9%) were initially misclassified, including the following: 13 presenting with skin +/− peripheral blood involvement and misclassified as mycosis fungoides/Sezary syndrome; 7 with lymphomatous disease, absence of leukemic involvement, and diffuse CD30 expression, misclassified as ALK- negative anaplastic large-cell lymphoma; 1 thought to represent T-prolymphocytic leukemia with TCL-1 gene rearrangement and diffuse marrow involvement. We also present an example of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, which mimicked lymphoepithelioid variant of peripheral T-cell lymphoma also with diffuse marrow involvement. A subset of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma can closely mimic a variety of other more common T-cell neoplasms. Due to its extreme clinicopathologic heterogeneity, identification of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma requires a high level of suspicion based on patient demographic alone, which should prompt anti-human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1/2 serology testing in all T-cell neoplasms developing in patients of appropriate demographic. Absence of high level of suspicion, adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma is easily misclassified.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine