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New drug dramatically improves survival in Hodgkin lymphoma patients
Date:6/27/2012

in early stages. However, if initial treatment fails, the patient may require an autologous stem cell transplant. This procedure uses the patient's own stem cells to replace immune system cells that are destroyed by high-dose chemotherapy or radiation.

About 50 percent of patients who undergo autologus stem cell transplants relapse. Among patients who relapse, only 10 percent survive.

The Food and Drug Administration last year approved brentuximab vedotin for patients who have either failed an autologous stem cell transplant, are ineligible for a stem cell transplant or have failed two multi-drug chemotherapy regimens.

Brentuximab vedotin is an antibody attached to a powerful chemotherapy drug. The antibody acts like a homing signal, bringing the chemo drug to lymphoma cells. "Brentuximab represents a very interesting new concept in the fight against cancer," said oncologist Tulio Rodriguez, MD, who treats Salerno and is medical director of Loyola's Bone Marrow Transplantation Program. "It delivers powerful chemotherapy right where it needs to be -- into the cancer cell."

Cancer patients frequently are debilitated not only by their cancer, but also by chemotherapy treatments. Targeted drugs such as brentuximab can spare patients from the harmful effects of traditional chemotherapy, Rodriguez said.

The study found that side effects from brentuximab were generally mild. Only 9 percent of patients suffered severe peripheral neuropathy, 2 percent had extreme fatigue and 1 percent had severe diarrhea.

Salerno said the only significant side effect she experienced was mild neuropathy, which went away when the dose was lowered.

Salerno, 43, has been battling Hodgkin lymphoma for 10 years. Although she is not cured, she said, "I feel great and have a good quality of life."

Salerno, who lives in Lombard, said her treatments inspired her to start a business. She markets the Joey Pouch -- a small, soft pouch
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Contact: Jim Ritter
jritter@lumc.edu
708-216-2445
Loyola University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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