The common antibiotic doxycycline effectively treats a type of lymphoma associated with chlamydia infection, according to a study in the October 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Ocular adnexal lymphoma of the MALT-type (OAL) is a kind of cancer of the eyelids and related tissues. It is not often fatal, but its symptoms can compromise a patient's quality of life. Some research has suggested an association between OAL and infection with the bacteria Chlamydia psittaci.
Andres J. M. Ferreri, M.D., of the San Raffaele H Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, and colleagues examined whether doxycycline was an effective treatment for OAL. They gave 27 OAL patients a 3-week course of doxycycline therapy, whether they were positive or negative for chlamydia. They looked for tumor progression every 6 months.
The authors found that doxycycline treatment caused lymphoma to regress in both patients who did not test positive for the disease and those who did. They suggest that doxycycline may be a useful therapy even in patients where other treatments have failed, and it is a valid alternative to chemotherapy and radiation without causing the same toxic side-effects. Patients treated with doxycycline had a 66% rate of disease-free survival.
"Our prospective trial revealed that doxycycline is a fast, safe, and active treatment for OAL, both at initial diagnosis and at relapse," the authors write.
In an accompanying editorial, Emanuel Zucca, M.D., and Francesco Bertoni, M.D., of the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, write, "While doxycycline appears to be an easy-to-implement therapeutic approach, we strongly encourage all physicians to enroll patients in clinical prospective trials to help answer these questions."