Lifestyle, demographic and Skindex measures associated with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma: a single institution cohort study

Morgan Nguyen, Tessa LeWitt, Yanzhen Pang, Katherine Bagnowski, Maria L. Espinosa, Jaehyuk Choi, Joan Guitart, Walter Liszewski, Xiaolong Alan Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) risk factors and associated quality of life are poorly understood. Previous studies of CTCL risk factors explored patient comorbidities and lifestyle exposures, but not in conjunction with disease stage, subtype, severity, or health-related quality of life (HRQoL). We investigated lifestyle exposures and demographic factors associated with advanced-stage disease, increased disease severity, and poorer HRQoL outcomes in this single-center cohort study. A cohort survey study was conducted at Northwestern’s Multidisciplinary Cutaneous Lymphoma specialty clinic between April 2019 and June 2021. REDCap surveys were administered to 140 patients with CTCL, investigating patients’ demographics, lifestyle and chemical exposures. QoL was evaluated using the Skindex survey; pain and itch with ten-point Likert scales. Modified Severity Weighted Assessment Tool (mSWAT), disease stage, and disease subtype were confirmed upon enrollment in the study by a single board-certified dermatologist specializing in CTCL. Factors were compared by t test or Fischer’s exact test. Median age was 63 years (range 14–92) with male-to-female ratio of 1.2:1. The most common diagnosis was CD4 + MF (n = 94, 67.1%). Common lifestyle exposures included smoking (past or current) (52.3%) and chemical exposure history (all sources [53.7%]; industrial only [33.0%]). History of chemical exposures were associated with advanced stage disease (p = 0.003) and worse QoL outcomes (p = 0.001). There were significant racial differences, respectively, in early (I–IIA) vs late (IIB–IV) stage disease (p = 0.003). Obesity, hygiene, smoking, recent sun exposure, education and atopy were not significantly associated with disease stage or severity. We provide an analysis of lifestyle and demographic factors in the context of CTCL disease severity, stage, and HRQoL. We identified race as a potential risk factor for advanced stage disease and both skin phototype and chemical exposures as a risk factor for increased disease severity as measured by mSWAT. QoL outcomes were multifactorial and significantly associated with history of chemical exposure, severe pain/itch, race, disease stage and subtype. An improved understanding of these associations may lead to better individualized care. As chemical exposure and race were found to be significant factors associated with advanced-stage disease, taking exposure histories and addressing racial disparities may improve care for CTCL patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-278
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Dermatological Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Chemical exposures
  • Cutaneous lymphoma
  • Mycosis fungoides
  • Quality of life
  • Risk factors
  • Sezary syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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