Treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma with oral alitretinoin

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Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a potentially life-limiting malignant disease. Treatment strategies in CTCL aim at disease control and remission with the lowest possible side-effects.


Recent reports suggest that the new vitamin A derivative alitretinoin might be a well-tolerated treatment option.


We analysed the files of 11 CTCL patients with mycosis fungoides (n = 10) or Sézary syndrome (n = 1), who were treated with oral alitretinoin alone or in combination with standard treatment based on individual off-label treatment decisions. Patients had been monitored every 4–8 weeks with skin examination and laboratory analyses.


Ten of 11 patients (90.9%) showed a marked improvement of their CTCL skin lesions and no progress of the disease during treatment with alitretinoin, one patient showed no response to the treatment (9.1%). Four of the responding patients (40.0%) had a complete response and 6 (60.0%) had a partial response. Average time to response was 2.5 months. Duration of treatment varied depending on whether patients had reached complete or partial remission. In general, alitretinoin was well tolerated. One of 11 patients developed high non-fasting average serum cholesterol (>300 mg/dL) and 1/11 a mean non-fasting triglyceride value >500 mg/dL. In 3/11 patients, thyroid-stimulating hormone declined without clinical symptoms during treatment, with one of the patients also showing a decreased thyroxin level.


In our group of CTCL patients we noticed a low rate of side-effects and an overall good clinical response to treatment with alitretinoin. Further studies are required to substantiate this early clinical observation.

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