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Extracorporeal photopheresis--a new approach for the treatment of cutaneous T cell lymphomas.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Steglitz, Free University of Berlin, Germany.


Extracorporeal photochemotherapy (extracorporeal photopheresis, ECP) is going to become a new alternative in the treatment of cutaneous T cell lymphomas (CTCL), autoimmune disorders, and transplant rejections. After the first promising results in the treatment of CTCL reported in 1987 by Edelson et al. increasing numbers of CTCL patients in a growing number of ECP centers throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan have been successfully treated. Today, it seems that in particular Sézary's syndrome and the erythrodermic variant of mycosis fungoides (MF) respond very well to ECP. Compared to historical controls of MF with lymph node involvement, the median survival of the ECP-treated patients increased from 30 months to up to 60 months. It is our experience that the tumor stage of MF, however, cannot be treated with ECP alone, but is successfully controlled by combination regimens, for example with recombinant interferon alpha. CTCL patients heavily pretreated by polychemotherapy and severe endogenous or iatrogenic immunsuppression do not respond sufficiently and are not good candidates for ECP. The adverse reactions under ECP are well controlled and very low in number. In particular, general immunosuppression by ECP has not been reported so far.

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