FDA Approved Treatment for Some Patients with Non-Hodgkin's B-Cell Lymphoma

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is the only center in western Pennsylvania providing axicabtagene ciloleucel, also known by the brand name YESCARTA™, the first FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy for adult patients with relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In this therapy, the CAR T cells recognize a molecule called CD19, which is on the lymphoma cells.

The FDA has approved this treatment for patients with the following conditions that have either not responded to or have relapsed following two or more lines of systemic therapy:

  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
  • Primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma
  • High grade B-cell lymphoma
  • DLBCL that results from follicular lymphoma

Patients will undergo an extensive evaluation to determine their eligibility for this highly specialized treatment.

What to Expect from CAR T-Cell Therapy

Patients who are approved for YESCARTA will undergo the following treatment process:

  • Collection: Patients undergo leukapheresis at the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. During this process, white blood cells (including T cells) are collected from the patient.
  • Modification: Our team sends the collected cells to the manufacturing laboratory at Kite, a Gilead Company, where they are genetically modified to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on their surface.
  • Multiplication: The genetically modified T cells are grown in the lab, multiplying so they increase in number. The lab freezes the multiplied cells and ships them back to UPMC Hillman Cancer Center; this process takes about 2-3 weeks.
  • Chemotherapy: Patients will receive conditioning chemotherapy a few days prior to their hospital admission for infusion. This therapy improves the ability of the infused CAR T cells to expand and multiply.
  • Infusion and Inpatient Hospitalization: Patients are admitted at UPMC Shadyside and the CAR T cells are infused back into their bloodstream in a single infusion, like a blood transfusion. Patients typically stay in the hospital for 1-2 weeks following infusion so our team can closely monitor them for potential side effects.
  • Recovery: The risk/recovery period following CAR T-cell therapy is usually 2-3 months. During this period, patients must be monitored for side effects and treatment response, which can be severe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires patients treated with YESCARTA to remain near UPMC Hillman Cancer Center during the initial 30-day acute recovery period.

Contact Us

Physician Referrals

To refer a patient for evaluation for YESCARTA, please call 1-833-UPMC-CART.


If you think you might be a candidate for YESCARTA, please call 1-833-UPMC-CART.