An Overview of Enteropathy-Associated T-cell Lymphoma
written by: Harry Sylvester
• edited by: Diana Cooper
• updated: 10/13/2010
Enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma (EATL) begins first in the jejunum, between the duodenum and ileum, in the small intestine. Chronic celiac disease might exacerbate this cancer. Learn about this rare, malignant cancer along with its explanations.
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What is Enteropathy-Associated T-cell Lymphoma?
Enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma (EATL) is a rare subtype of Non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs) that thrives between the cells lining the small intestine. EATL typically begins in the jejunum, which is a section of the small intestine between the duodenum and ileum. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that arises in cells known as lymphocytes, which are white blood cells located in the lymph nodes and responsible for immune responses. T-cells, a type of lymphocytes, can grow into lymphoma cells and lead to EATL. In addition, celiac disease might aggravate this cancer. EATL is also known as intestinal T-cell lymphoma, or enteropathy type T-cell lymphoma.
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EATL is always associated with a digestive condition called celiac disease. Gluten intake triggers this disease, especially for those who are sensitive to gluten, which is the main protein in wheat flour. Foods such as cookies, bread, and pizza crust may exacerbate celiac disease. If you suffer from celiac disease and consume glutenous foods, an immune reaction can suddenly take place in your small intestine. This condition injures the surface of the small bowel, making it impossible to absorb nutrients which can lead to deficiencies. It is recommended avoiding food containing gluten if you have celiac disease.
If such symptoms are present, especially when you also have celiac disease, you need to consult your doctor to undergo several diagnostic procedures including:
Computed tomography (CT) scan
A CT scan uses a series of x-rays taken from various angles to produce images of tissues in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Those images are combined to give a powerful image. A CT scan radiates radioactive substances during this diagnosis. Your doctor may inject an intravenous contrast material into your vein to provide obvious images of diagnosed organs. If cancer is present, a CT scan can inform the location, shape, and size of the tumor.
Complete blood count (CBC) test
The CBC can calculate the formed elements of blood. If you have symptoms like fatigue and lethargy, your doctor might recommend undergoing this test to help diagnose the cause. The test evaluates the concentration of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in the blood. The doctor would wipe your skin with alcohol, and then he or she inserts a needle into your vein to take a few milliliters of blood sample. It will be diagnosed in the laboratory.
Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) test
Lactate dehydrogenase or lactic acid dehydrogenase is an enzyme present in all tissues of the body. When disease or injury impairs tissues of the body, they excrete more enzymes into the bloodstream. EATL might increase the amount of LDH in the blood. Like the CBC test, the LDH test is performed by drawing your blood from your vein. Your doctor can soon recognize the cellular damage by diagnosing blood levels in LDH.
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Surgery is recommended for those with early stages. However, those with final stages of EATL need to apply medications such as vincristine, methotrexate, doxorubicin, and prednisone. Your doctor may suggest you take CHOP (cyclophosphamide, hydroxorubicin, oncovin, and prednisone).
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As a malignant cancer, the prognosis of EATL is very poor if left untreated. The tumor growth is fast, making it possible to metastasize or spread to other adjacent organs such as the spleen and liver.