Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at PUVA with or without bexarotene for people with Mycosis Fungoides (EORTC 21011)
Mycosis fungoides is a rare type of non Hodgkin lymphoma that affects the skin. It belongs to a group of conditions called cutaneous T cell lymphoma. Cutaneous T cell lymphomas are cancers of a type of white blood cell, called T lymphocytes.
If you have early stage mycosis fungoides, you may have a treatment using a light activated drug to target the cancer, called PUVA. Although this treatment works well at first, the cancer usually comes back (recurs) and then you need more treatments with PUVA. If you have repeated courses of PUVA, your risk of developing non melanoma skin cancer increases. Doctors would like to be able to reduce the dose of PUVA and so reduce this risk.
This trial looked at a drug called bexarotene. This is a new type of ‘rexinoid’ drug. Rexinoids contain chemicals that are similar to vitamin A. The researchers compared PUVA with a combination of bexarotene and PUVA. They tried to find out
- Whether PUVA with bexarotene works better than PUVA alone
- Which treatment had the fewest side effects
- Whether the combination of bexarotene and PUVA meant that the dose of PUVA could be reduced
Summary of results
The trial team found that PUVA with bexarotene worked just as well as PUVA alone and the side effects were acceptable.
Of the 45 people randomised to have PUVA, the researchers were able to look at the results of 38. They found that
- 10 had no sign of their cancer – this called a
- 22 had cancer that had shrunk – this is called a
- 3 had cancer that had stayed the same size – this is called
- 3 had cancer that had continued to grow
Of the 48 people randomised to have PUVA with bexarotene, the researchers were able to look at the results of 40. They found that
- 15 had a complete response
- 22 had a partial response
- 2 had stable disease
- 1 their cancer had continued to grow
The researchers noted a trend towards people needing fewer PUVA sessions. But they said that they could not rule out this happening by chance because not enough people took part in the trial. So it was not a
The researchers concluded that PUVA with bexarotene worked just as well as PUVA to treat mycosis fungoides.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Dr Sean Whittaker
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)