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Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) is a rare and aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a group of cancers that affect the lymphatic system. AITL is a form of lymphoma that involves the T-cells, also known as T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell responsible for mounting specific responses against viruses, bacteria, fungi, and abnormal cells. In AITL, there is uncontrolled growth of abnormal T-cells in the lymph nodes and other lymphatic tissues. These cells infiltrate the lymph nodes and cause them to become enlarged and possibly tender. AITL cells lose their normal T-cell functions, including their ability to help regulate the immune response, making it more difficult to fight infections. AITL is characterized by the swelling of lymph nodes, spleen enlargement, systemic symptoms such as fever, night sweats, weight loss, skin rash, and a variety of autoimmune phenomena. Approximately 40-50% of patients experience skin involvement. 

Why Do People Get Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma?

The exact cause of AITL is not known. However, it is believed to be related to a mutation in the T-cells. This mutation causes the cells to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way, leading to the development of a tumor. Some studies suggest that exposure to certain chemicals or a history of certain viral infections may increase the risk of developing this disease. AITL may be linked to latent infection of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and herpes virus type 6. It's also worth noting that AITL is not a hereditary condition and it's not contagious. Medications linked to the induction of AITL include salazosulfapyridine, azithromycin, and doxycycline.

Who Gets Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma?

The exact incidence of AITL is unknown but in the United States, AITL makes up 1-2% of all non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases, making it a very rare type of blood cancer. The female-to-male ratio is also unknown. Although AITL has been reported in children, most patients are middle-aged or elderly. One study reported a median patient age of 64 years in a series of 62 patients. People with a weakened immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS, those who have undergone organ transplants and those diagnosed with Sjogren syndrome are at an increased risk of getting AITL. 

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