CAR T-cell immunotherapy is a new type of treatment for certain kinds of blood cancers, or hematologic cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma.

CAR T-cell therapy, or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, involves genetically modifying T cells to produce chimeric antigen receptors on their surface that allow them to recognize and kill cancer cells.

T cells (T lymphocytes or white blood cells) are drawn from the person who has cancer. The cells are genetically modified and multiplied in the laboratory and then reintroduced into the person’s body intravenously. The modified cells are now able to destroy cancer cells.

There are several types of CAR T-cell therapy. Health Canada approved the first therapy in September 2018.

Eligibility and procedure

Only people with certain kinds of blood cancers can be treated with CAR T-cell immunotherapy in Québec.

The following people are eligible for treatment:

  • children and young adults age 25 and under who have acute lymphoblastic leukemia that has relapsed or is refractory;
  • adults who have large B-cell lymphoma that has relapsed or is refractory.

Treatment is provided at the following institutions:

  • Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) Sainte-Justine (children under 18 years of age);
  • Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (adults);
  • CHU de Québec – Université Laval (adults).

Specialists in these institutions assess the eligible person using specific clinical criteria recognized by experts. They then determine if CAR T-cell therapy is the best option for the person and if treatment can be started.

To find out more

If you have any questions about the procedure and the specific eligibility criteria, contact the hospital centre.

Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (under 18 years old)
CHU Sainte-Justine
Telephone: 514 345-4931
CHU Sainte-Justine website This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only)

Young adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (18 to 25 years old) or adult large B-cell lymphoma
Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal)
Telephone: 514 252-3400
CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal website This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only)

CHU de Québec – Université Laval
CHU de Québec – Université Laval website This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only)