Cancer Update Non Hodgkins Lymphoma Treatment Options

Cancer Update Non Hodgkins Lymphoma Treatment Options

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a​ cancer affecting the​ lymphatic system, is​ the​ second-fastest-rising cancer in​ the​ United States. Incidence rates have nearly doubled over the​ past 30 years. it​ is​ estimated that 360,000 Americans are currently living with NHL, and​ about 58,000 new cases are expected to​ occur in​ the​ United States this year.

NHL is​ difficult to​ target and​ treat, as​ the​ disease can be found throughout the​ body in​ any blood-filtering tissue such as​ bone marrow. Patients typically have multiple relapses, meaning the​ cancer returns multiple times. This makes it​ very important for​ patients, their caretakers and​ their loved ones to​ talk to​ a​ physician about all available treatment options and​ to​ get access to​ the​ latest therapies.

NHL patients are traditionally treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. While these treatments destroy cancer cells, they also destroy surrounding healthy cells. Additionally, chemotherapy and​ radiation therapy can take up to​ five months to​ complete and​ may require patients to​ stay in​ the​ hospital.

An innovative class of​ drugs is​ harnessing the​ immune system to​ fight NHL. Radioimmunotherapy (RIT) is​ a​ promising area of​ cancer treatment that combines the​ specificity of​ monoclonal antibodies (similar to​ other antibodies the​ immune system makes to​ fight infection) with the​ cell-killing ability of​ radiation. When injected into a​ patient, these radiation-carrying antibodies seek out and​ bind to​ specific tumor cells, and​ then deliver radiation directly to​ those and​ surrounding cells.

Two RIT products have been approved by the​ U.S. Food and​ Drug Administration (FDA). These products are completed in​ just one treatment regimen, lasting 1-2 weeks, so patients don't need to​ frequently return to​ their doctor's office for​ treatment on a​ weekly or​ semiweekly basis. Coupled with the​ fact that RIT can be administered on an​ outpatient basis, these therapies provide more convenience for​ patients and​ their families. Recent studies have shown that NHL patients may benefit most from these therapies when they are used early in​ the​ treatment of​ NHL, prior to​ multiple courses of​ chemotherapy.

RIT delivers radiation to​ B-cells by recognizing and​ attaching to​ the​ CD20 antigen.

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