Photopheresis is a treatment in which a patient’s own white blood cells are collected, then treated with a medication that is activated by ultraviolet light leading to beneficial modification of the diseased cells, which, at the conclusion of treatment, are returned to the patient.

This treatment serves as a type of “vaccination” against disease producing T-cells and is used effectively to treat Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma, Graft vs. Host Disease, and Solid Organ Transplant Rejection.

Program History

As one of the nation’s first three programs, the Penn Photopheresis Unit was officially opened in 1987. It is now one of the largest programs of its type in the country. The Penn Photopheresis Program has performed more than 25,000 treatments by a highly trained medical staff. Penn patients receive expert care from a multidisciplinary team of physicians and nurses who are among the most experienced in the United States in the use of this therapy.

Research and Clinical Trials

During the past 25 years, Penn Medicine has participated in numerous clinical trials which have incorporated photopheresis into an immune boosting multimodality treatment approach for advanced forms of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and Sezary syndrome. High clinical response rates have been achieved. As new immune boosting therapies become available, we continue to perfect the treatment approach to these conditions.