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Possible Cure for Rare Lymphoma Reported
Date:12/9/2007

Other blood cancer treatment advances announced at hematology meeting

SUNDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Danish researchers are reporting what appears to be a cure for a rare type of lymphoma that has been regarded as incurable until now.

A complex regimen that included immunochemotherapy produced a five-year, event-free survival rate of better than 60 percent in 159 people with mantle cell lymphoma, physicians at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen reported Sunday at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting, in Atlanta.

The cancer was treated with six cycles of immunochemotherapy, aimed at arousing the immune system, followed by high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell support. Of the 114 people who completed treatment, 72 percent were disease-free at five years.

The report is an outstanding example of the better long-term survival rates for various kinds of blood cancers such as lymphomas being reported at the meeting, said Dr. Ruth Winter, a professor of hematology and oncology at Northwestern University in Chicago.

"All kinds of things are happening," Winter said. "These are exciting times for us all."

The advances being made "really represent a variety of different kind of approaches," Winter said, with no one thread running through the variety of trials being reported.

One piece of research represents something of a challenge to standard chemotherapy by successfully using high doses of steroids for multiple myeloma, said study author Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"There is a different philosophy in this trial," Rajkumar explained. "Less can be more. For years, we have used the highest possible dose of steroids for multiple myeloma, but they have been a source of major morbidity for patients. This is the first trial in which the intensity of steroids that are used has been studied in a randomized way."

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