Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is a rare type of cancer that affects T cells, which are a type of white blood cells that play a role in the immune system. ATL is caused by infection with the human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), which is transmitted through blood transfusions, unprotected sexual contact, and from mother to child during breastfeeding.
ATL typically affects adults, with a peak incidence in the sixth decade of life. It can affect multiple organs in the body, including the skin, lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and bone marrow. The symptoms of ATL can vary depending on the organs affected and may include fever, fatigue, night sweats, skin lesions, and swollen lymph nodes.
There are four subtypes of ATL, including acute, lymphoma, chronic, and smoldering, with acute and lymphoma subtypes being more aggressive. Treatment for ATL may include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and stem cell transplantation. However, the prognosis for ATL is generally poor, with a median survival of less than one year for the acute and lymphoma subtypes.