Photopheresis for Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma

NYU Langone doctors may use photopheresis, another whole-body therapy, to manage Sézary syndrome or mycosis fungoides—the two most common types of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma—when they are found in the blood. This therapy may be used in combination with other whole-body or skin-directed treatments.

To perform photopheresis, doctors remove some of the blood from the body and circulate it through a machine that separates out white blood cells and treats them with psoralen, a medication that makes them sensitive to ultraviolet light. These treated white blood cells are then exposed to ultraviolet light, which causes them to become immunogenic, meaning they act like a vaccine against cutaneous T-cell lymphoma when they are infused back into the body. This treatment may help relieve the itching and redness that the condition causes. 

Photopheresis usually takes a few hours and is often given two days in a row for several treatments that take place over the course of a couple of months. Side effects may include sensitivity to sunlight for about 24 hours after treatment, so your doctor may recommend that you wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and sunglasses.