Selina M. Luger, MD
Last Modified: April 14, 2002
Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My boyfriend, age 31, was diagnosed three and a half years ago with Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma. In the past he has undergone chemotherapy and radiation therapy, neither of which has helped. He is now being treated with interferon. I just read where there was some success in treating CTCL patients with stem cells. Would our embryonic stem cells give him a better chance for remission and survival? I would do anything for him to live. If this would give us hope, I will do it in a minute.
Selina M. Luger, MD, Director of the Leukemia Program and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:
This is a very complicated question. There are several issues. I am not aware of any data using allogeneic stem cells to treat CTCL. We do sometimes use the patient's own stem cells for high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant to treat patients with CTCL that has spread to involve organs other than the skin, but that doesn't sound like it is the case.
When we do use allogeneic stem cells for transplant, it is usually best to use a brother or sister. Both the recipient and the donor need to have the same immune system type so a sibling (who has both of the same parents) is the best chance. Children or embryos or only likely to be 50% matches.
Dermatologists usually treat CTCL unless the disease has become more extensive in which case oncologist may become involved.