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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001 Feb;44(2):253-60.

Treatment of stage II cutaneous T-cell lymphoma with interferon alfa-2a and extracorporeal photochemotherapy: a prospective controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena, Germany.



Both interferon alpha and extracorporeal photochemotherapy have been shown to be effective in primary cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs). However, no prospective trial has been published on the combination of both treatments, although retrospective investigations suggested a better efficacy than for either interferon or extracorporeal photochemotherapy.


Our purpose was to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of combined interferon alfa-2a with extracorporeal photochemotherapy in a prospective controlled trial.


A prospective controlled study was performed. Fourteen patients (all male) aged 38 to 72 years with CTCL of the mycosis fungoides type, stage IIa/IIb, and a 72-year-old male patient with a Ki-1 lymphoma were treated twice a month for 6 months with extracorporeal photochemotherapy using oral 8-methoxypsoralen as photosensitizer in combination with interferon alfa-2a subcutaneously 3 times a week in the maximal tolerable dosage (ie, up to 18 x 10(6) U). The effects were investigated by a skin score, staging, histologic score (density of the T-cell infiltrate; from 0 = absent to 3 = heavy), immunohistology, and laboratory investigations including total peripheral T-cell count, CD4/CD8 ratio, and soluble interleukin 2 receptor (sIL-2R).


After 6 months, best response was a complete response (CR) in 4 patients, a partial response (PR) in 3, and a stable disease (SD) in 7 of 14 patients (overall response rate [CR + PR] 50%). In responders the time to best response was 4.3 +/- 1.4 months. The skin score decreased from 22.5 +/- 8.1 to 15.1 +/- 11.0 (P <.001), the histologic score decreased from 2.57 +/- 0.51 to 1.21 +/- 0.80 (P <.001). In the lesional skin the percentage of CD4 cells decreased from 75% to 51% (P =.038) and Ki-67-positive cells decreased from 6.7% to 2.4% (P =.001). The total T-cell count/microL decreased from 1018.9 +/- 557.1 to 667.9 +/- 417.9 (P =.012), and the CD4/CD8 ratio also decreased from 1.88 +/- 0.92 to 1.51 +/- 0.67 (P =.038). The sIL-2R levels did not change significantly during the first 4 months of treatment. Among patients of stage IIa the response rate was 60% in contrast to only 25% of those in stage IIb. Side effects were seen temporarily, ranging from grade 0 to grade 3. There was no need for additional therapy, but interferon dose was decreased because of side effects. After 1 year of follow-up the total response rate was 46.2% (6 of 13 patients): 5 of 9 with stage IIa(55.6%) and 1 of 4 with stage IIb (25.0%).


These results indicate that patients with CTCL stage IIa can achieve a total response rate of 56% with combined interferon alfa-2a and extracorporeal photochemotherapy. Responders seem to experience their best response within the first 6 months of treatment. The treatment is well tolerated and does not cause severe side effects.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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