Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012 - Good News on the Lymphoma Research Front

Here's an encouraging article about developments in treatment for Follicular Lymphoma - a few years old now (2008),  though I hadn't seen it before. I may or may not have that type of NHL now - my biopsy tissue samples were pretty small, so the docs can't say for sure whether the indolent lymphoma I now have, post-chemo, is the Follicular type, or some other variety of small B-cell lymphoma.

In any event, I take this to be positive news for my situation:

Natural History of Follicular Lymphoma Changing for the Better

LUGANO, Switzerland-The prognosis for patients with follicular lymphoma has greatly improved over the past decade, and oncologists/hematologists should tell their patients to be optimistic. So said James O. Armitage, MD, in his John Ultmann Memorial Lecture here at the 10th International conference on Malignant Lymphoma.

Improved treatments are the main reason for increased survival, particularly immunotherapy, said Dr. Armitage, Professor of Internal Medicine in the Section of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Our treatments are getting better, and there is a subset of patients, albeit small today, who survive for a very long time free of the disease. Patients in that subset may actually be cured of follicular lymphoma, and we can hope with our patients that they might be in that group.

Dr. Armitage's presentation took the audience through studies and analyses all pointing to the fact that the natural history of the disease is changing for the better.

He concluded that clinicians should take advantage of the new treatments: "Based on data I showed today, a new patient should always be treated with some form of passive immune therapy, if the drug is available. For most patients that would be rituximab, because there is really striking data that that improves survival."

He added that some data show that rituximab should be included in the initial therapy for follicular lymphoma, but he said that issue is not completely resolved.Despite the fact that we know much more about this disease than we did in the past, there is still very much to be learned, and we should encourage our patients whenever possible to participate in clinical studies.Dr. Armitage said many oncologists believe follicular lymphoma to be a fairly simple disease to diagnose and treat. Survival is long, and patients respond to many different therapies and continue to respond after relapse unlike in many other malignancies.

For the rest of the article, go to the source of the story, the website of the British medical journal, Oncology Times.

No comments: