Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the nation's sixth leading cause of cancer death, is a cancer of the lymph system, which is part of the immune system. Lymphoma spreads easily through the lymph system and the bloodstream and consequently tends to be widespread when it is diagnosed. Traditional treatment often involves intensive chemotherapy, or a combination of chemotherapy and the monoclonal antibody rituximab. These treatments are usually given every three weeks over a span of up to six months and can cause many unpleasant side effects, including nausea, hair loss and infections.
Follicular lymphoma is the second most common type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and is not considered to be curable using these traditional treatments; even after patients initially have a response to treatment, the disease almost always comes back and becomes more difficult to treat.
Bexxar, whose chemical name is tositumomab and iodine I 131 tositumomab, combines an antibody that seeks out cancer cells, and a radioactive form of the element iodine. When injected, it travels like a guided missile through the bloodstream to bind to a protein found on the surface of the cancerous cells. The radiation zaps these malignant cells with minimal exposure to normal tissues.
With the Bexxar therapeutic regimen, a patient receives an injected test dose of radioactive Bexxar to determine how that patient's body processes the tagged antibody. Nuclear medicine scans are used to assess how quickly Bexxar reaches the tumor and how quickly the radiation disappears from the patient's body. One to two weeks after that initial dose, the patient then receives a custom-tailored therapeutic dose, and therapy is considered complete. The most common side effect is a temporary lowering of blood counts several weeks after the treatment. There
Source:University Of Michigan Health System