Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma

Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma is a rare type of cancer that begins in the white blood cells and attacks the skin. Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma begins in the B cells — one type of disease-fighting white blood cells called lymphocytes.

The types of cutaneous B-cell lymphoma include:

  • Primary cutaneous follicle center lymphoma
  • Primary cutaneous marginal zone B-cell lymphoma
  • Primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, leg type
  • Intravascular diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma may form as a nodule under the skin that may be the same color as your skin or may appear pink or purple.

Diagnosis

Tests and procedures used to diagnose cutaneous B-cell lymphoma include:

  • Physical exam. Your doctor will carefully examine your skin and look for other signs that may give clues about your diagnosis, such as swollen lymph nodes.
  • Skin biopsy. Your doctor will remove a small portion of the skin lesion to look for lymphoma cells.
  • Blood tests. A sample of your blood may be analyzed to look for lymphoma cells.
  • Bone marrow biopsy. A sample of your bone marrow may be tested to look for lymphoma cells.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests, such as computerized tomography (CT) scan and positron emission tomography (PET) scan, may help your doctor assess your condition.

Treatment

Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma treatment depends on the specific type of lymphoma that you have.

Treatment options may include:

  • Surgery to remove the cancer. If you have one or only a few areas of cutaneous lymphoma, your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove the cancer and some of the healthy tissue that surrounds it. Surgery may be your only treatment or your doctor may recommend additional treatments.
  • Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses powerful energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be used alone to treat cutaneous lymphoma, or it may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy medications can be injected into the tumor through the skin to treat cutaneous lymphoma. For more advanced cutaneous lymphomas, you may receive chemotherapy as an infusion into a vein. Chemotherapy may be an option if your cutaneous lymphoma is aggressive or advanced.

Get the latest health information from Mayo Clinic delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe for free and receive an in-depth guide to coping with cancer, plus helpful advice on how to get a second opinion. You can unsubscribe at any time.

I would like to learn more about

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Jan. 28, 2020
  1. Primary cutaneous B-cell lymphomas. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Jan. 12, 2017.
  2. Bolognia JL, et al., eds. B-cell lymphomas of the skin. In: Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Limited; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 12, 2017.