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New standards of care and novel treatment options for several forms of lymphoma unveiled
Date:12/6/2010

r is often slow growing before it becomes symptomatic. This strategy has been based on research showing that there is no overall survival benefit in treating these asymptomatic patients with chemotherapy immediately after diagnosis. A watchful-waiting approach can, on average, defer chemotherapy for 2.5 years, and this strategy is often preferred as it results in a better quality of life for patients by sparing them from the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy at a time when they are feeling well.

Follicular lymphoma develops when a type of white blood cell called a "B" cell becomes cancerous. Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that selectively depletes cancerous B cells, and it has a more favorable side effect profile than chemotherapy. Researchers wanted to determine whether treating patients with follicular lymphoma with the drug immediately after diagnosis would further delay the time until chemotherapy is needed.

Researchers funded by Cancer Research UK and sponsored by the University College London randomized a total of 462 patients with asymptomatic stage 2, 3, or 4 follicular lymphoma to one of three treatment arms. In the first arm, 186 patients underwent a watchful-waiting approach. In the second arm, 84 patients received 375 mg/m2 of rituximab once a week for four weeks. In the third arm, 192 patients received 375 mg/m2 of rituximab once a week for four weeks followed by maintenance therapy with rituximab that was given every two months for two years. The primary endpoints of the study were time to initiation of new therapy (chemotherapy or radiotherapy) and overall effect on quality of life. The study was originally designed to show an improvement of 18 months in the median time to the start of therapy in each of the rituximab arms (i.e., from 30 months to 48 months). A total of 600 patients were set to be enrolled into this study in order to identify 230 patients who required chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment. However, thr
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Contact: Lindsey Love
llove@hematology.org
540-538-9326
American Society of Hematology
Source:Eurekalert

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