Treatment of late-stage Sézary syndrome with 2-Chlorodeoxyadenosine


R. A. el-Azhary, md, Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, 55905, USA E-mail:


Background  2-Chlorodeoxyadenosine (2-CdA), a purine adenosine analog, is safe and effective chemotherapy for patients with hairy cell leukemia and low-grade lymphomas. Adverse effects include neutropenia, lymphocytopenia, and infectious complications. Our objective was to evaluate the efficacy of 2-CdA (2–6 seven-day cycles) in the treatment of late-stage, recalcitrant Sézary syndrome.

Methods  Retrospective review of medical records of six patients with Sézary syndrome who had received 2-CdA cycles at Mayo Clinic, Rochester between March 1995 and March 2000. Variables assessed from the records included improvement in global appearance, extent of erythroderma, size of lymph nodes, pruritus, and leukocyte, lymphocyte, and absolute Sézary cell counts.

Results  Two patients, both with stage III Sézary syndrome, whose previous treatment consisted of only two modalities, responded well to the treatment, with moderate to total clearing of erythroderma and pruritus associated with a significant decrease in Sézary cell counts. The other four patients had only a partial response (one patient) or no response (three patients) to 2-CdA. The mortality rate was 50%. All three patients died of Staphylococcus aureus sepsis. However, only one patient was receiving 2-CdA treatment when he died. The other two patients died 8 and 9 weeks after the last 2-CdA cycle. This high mortality rate is attributed to infectious complications after 2-CdA treatment in patients with recalcitrant disease.

Conclusion  2-Chlorodeoxyadenosine shows efficacy in stage III Sézary syndrome, but it also carries a substantial risk of septic complications and mortality. It can be used if no other suitable alternatives are available. Caution should be exercised in all these patients regarding skin care and avoidance of infections or sepsis.