Bexarotene Gel; A New Skin-Directed Treatment Option For Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphomas

March 2003 | Volume 2 | Issue 2 | Original Article | 155 | Copyright © March 2003

Ann G. Martin. MD

Cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs) are a relatively uncommon group of lymphoproliferative disorders in which a malignant population of T cells is localized to the skin at presentation. Of the 4 classic CTCL phases (patches, infiltrated plaques, tumors, Sézary syndrome), the majority of patients present with early stage patch or plaque disease, which can usually be effectively managed using skin-directed therapies. Traditional skindirected therapies include topical corticosteroids, topical chemotherapeutic agents (mechlorethamine, carmustine), electron beam therapy (local and total skin), and phototherapy (UV-A, UV-B). Each of these has demonstrated efficacy in early stage disease; however, with the exception of topical corticosteroids, all have some disadvantages and are associated with significant adverse events, particularly secondary skin malignancies and skin damage. Bexarotene is a synthetic retinoid analog that selectively activates retinoid X receptors. In clinical trials, bexarotene gel demonstrated efficacy for the topical treatment of cutaneous lesions in patients with stage IA or IB CTCL who have refractory or persistent disease following other therapies or who cannot tolerate other therapies. Initial evidence indicates that bexarotene gel may be active as first-line therapy in early stage disease. Its role in combination with other treatments remains to be determined. Topical bexarotene gel is generally well tolerated and offers patients greater convenience compared with traditional skin-directed therapies, with a flexible administration regimen. The availability of bexarotene gel provides patients and physicians with a new skin-directed treatment option for early stage CTCL.