Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy profile of pegylated interferon α-2b (PEG-IFN α-2b) in combination with photochemotherapy (PUVA) in the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) in comparison with standard IFN α plus PUVA.
Design Retrospective cohort study over a period of 7 years.
Patients and interventions A total of 17 consecutive CTCL patients (stage IA–IV) were retrospectively analysed for toxicity and response rates associated with PEG-IFN α-2b (1.5 μg/kg weekly) plus PUVA (n = 9) or standard IFN α-2a (9 MIU 3×/week) plus PUVA (n = 8).
Main outcome measures Differences of response rates (complete/partial remission), progression-free survival, discontinuation of therapy, safety and toxicity profiles according to World Health Organization – Common Terminology Criteria of Adverse Events (WHO-CTCAE).
Results Myelosuppression and liver toxicity occured more frequently during PEG-IFN α-2b plus PUVA treatment than during standard IFN α-2a plus PUVA therapy [77.8 vs. 50% (odds ratio 1.477) and 77.8 vs. 50% (odds ratio 1.692), respectively]. By contrast, the occurence of constitutional side-effects (mainly fatigue) [100 vs.77.8% (odds ratio 0.889)] and more adverse events leading to study discontinuation was considerably higher in the standard IFN α-2a plus PUVA group. The overall response rate in the PEG-IFN α-2b plus PUVA group (89%) was significantly superior.
Conclusions In patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma PEG-IFN α-2b plus PUVA might become a promising treatment alternative as its higher rate of myelosuppression and liver toxicity is outweighed by its lower percentage of constitutional side-effects, and its significantly higher overall response. Due to the small number of participants at this retrospective study, a larger prospective study is essential to verify our results.