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New Treatment Alternative for First Line of Attack in Lymphoma Explored

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According to a recent study conducted by Manchester researchers, has proven to reveal promising results for a new treatment option in follicular lymphoma.

Follicular lymphoma is a kind of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cancer, that typically develops slowly. The majority of patients are diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced stage.

Recent advancements in treatment have included the use of antibodies to purposely target the tumorcells and to stimulate the patient's own immune system to attack their tumor(s). The use of such antibodies has significantly enhanced treatment response, however unfortunately most patients are still prone to relapse.

Radioimmunotherapy, a procedure in which a radioactive substance is fastened to the antibody, has been proven to be successful in treating patients who have previously relapsed.

As a result, today a team made up of researchers from The University of Manchester, part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, have investigated the use of radioimmunotherapy treatment in newly diagnosed patients.

The study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, examined the effects of delivering the treatment in two fractions or doses, such an approach is thought to enhance the penetration of the drug within larger tumors and also helps diminsh the side effects connected to a full dose treatment.

"This was the first study to look at giving two fractions of radioimmunotherapy as an initial treatment in follicular lymphoma. We wanted to assess its safety and effectiveness in a group of high-risk patients who conventionally have done less well,” said lead researcher of the study,” Professor Tim Illidge.

The researchers soon discovered that that their treatment plan was indeed practical and safe, in addition to involving very few side effects.

"We saw a high overall response rate, of 94.4%, and 50 of the 72 (69.4%) patients treated in the study achieved complete response, meaning their symptoms disappeared. These results are encouraging, but we need further studies in larger numbers of patients to fully compare this treatment to the standard treatment of 6-8 cycles of chemotherapy," noted Illidge.

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