A wide range of treatment options
There are a wide variety of treatments currently being evaluated in this study. Some of the topical treatments include emollients and topical steroids. Phototherapy and extracorporeal photophoresis are UV light therapies that may require the patient to come to the office. Some classic cancer treatments are also included, such as gemcitabine and local radiotherapy. Even watchful waiting is considered a potential treatment, as some cases end up progressing so slowly the disease never becomes significant. Systemic therapies are also available as well, which include oral bexarotene, acitretin, and interferon treatments. Because these are drugs that patients have to take by mouth, there may be more side effects associated with them compared to topical treatments mentioned above. Other treatments like skin electron-beam therapy and topical nitrogen mustard are less often used but are also available and included in this study.
Watchful waiting is also an acceptable treatment option but is only used successfully in very early-stage mycosis fungoides. In the study, Dr. Quaglino found that none of the 71 early-stage patients being monitored alone ended up developing disease progression. Though the data so far is promising, it's important to be careful about keeping an eye on these patients, especially if they are older and have other comorbidities.
For example, patients tend to prefer topical treatments to phototherapy because it’s so much more convenient. Topical creams can be taken home and applied daily just like a daily moisturizer. On the other hand, phototherapy requires the patient to actually travel to the hospital several times a week.