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Our Approach to BPDCN Treatment

  • Because BPDCN can affect the bone marrow, blood, lymph nodes, and skin, your care involves a multidisciplinary team. From pathologists involved in diagnosis to oncologists and dermatologists who lead the treatment team, our experts use novel approaches to the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with BPDCN. This team takes a patient-centered approach to your care, with your needs as the focus of all they do.

    Evaluation and diagnosis

    Techniques for diagnosing BPDCN include:

    • Biopsy, performed by our dermatologists, interventional radiologists, or surgical oncologists
    • Genetic analysis
    • Radiology
    • Laboratory testing
    • Molecular testing using immunohistochemistry and/or flow cytometry
    • Cytogenetics including chromosomal karyotype, flow cytometry to help differentiate BPDCN from other leukemias or lymphomas.

    Often, patients have had biopsies elsewhere before coming to our Center. But whether performed here or elsewhere, our pathologists review all initial biopsies.

    Dermatologists may also perform skin biopsies to establish the diagnosis, to see if the disease is affecting the skin, or to monitor response to treatment.

    Personalized treatment plans

    To date, treatment for BPDCN has included chemotherapy, sometimes followed by a stem cell transplant. Patients often receive a chemotherapy regimen used for leukemia or lymphoma, depending on the nature of an individual’s condition. Radiation therapy is sometimes used as well.

    Because there is no standard treatment for this disease, some patients participate in a clinical trial exploring new treatments for BPDCN. Dana-Farber is one of eight sites offering a clinical trial for BPDCN evaluating a targeted immunotoxin called SL-401, a novel agent that targets the IL-3 receptor (CD123), which is present on the surface of tumor cells in all cases of BPDCN.

    Our physician-researchers are exploring additional therapeutic approaches and more clinical trials may soon be available. Read more about our research on BPDCN.

    Compassionate care and support

    We understand that cancer affects patients and their families in many ways. So, in addition to providing highly personalized care and attention from our doctors, nurses, technicians, and staff, our Center offers a wide range of services, before, during, and after treatment. Support programs and resources that help patients and families include:

    • Financial planning
    • Nutrition counseling
    • Integrative therapies, including massage and acupuncture
    • Support groups led by our social workers