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September 1995

Is Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma Curable?

Author Affiliations

Boston University Medical Center The Skin Oncology Program 720 Harrison Ave Boston, MA 02118-2393; Boston

Arch Dermatol. 1995;131(9):1081-1082. doi:10.1001/archderm.1995.01690210113022

PHYSICIANS TREATING patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), an uncommon but potentially devastating tumor, face a major challenge in defining goals of treatment. A basic and fundamental question is can patients with CTCL be cured? The word cure, commonly used but poorly understood, has critical implications for patients and physicians alike. For the patient, prospects of cure affect emotional well-being, not to mention virtually all future life decisions. For the physician, concepts of cure shape and guide treatment strategies, ie, aggressive treatment with attendant side effects are justifiable when treating a curable entity, whereas conservative therapy (or even no treatment) may suffice for incurable ones.

So what exactly is cure? The New World Dictionary of American English1 defines cure as ''to restore the health or sound condition, to make well, to heal''—what patients would consider as complete and permanent eradication of disease. Physicians should not equate complete remission, no evidence

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