Fighting lymphoma: Treatment options include alternatives to chemotherapy, expert explains

Editor’s Note: May 28 is World Blood Cancer Day

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Chemotherapy is normally the primary remedy medical doctors strive to deal with lymphoma, together with the 2 most typical varieties: non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin. But alternatives to chemotherapy are creating, as first-line remedies and as backup options, explains Stephen Ansell, M.D., Ph.D., hematology chair and hematologic oncologist on the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Lymphoma is a blood cancer that begins when a germ-fighting white blood cell, referred to as a lymphocyte, mutates and quickly multiplies. There have been roughly a half-million new circumstances of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 82,409 new circumstances of Hodgkin lymphoma in 2022, making them the 10th and 26th mostly recognized cancers that 12 months, respectively, in accordance to the newest statistics from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer

Symptoms might include swollen lymph nodes, itchy pores and skin, evening sweats, fever, persistent fatigue, unexplained weight loss and shortness of breath.

Developing novel therapies to enhance lymphoma outcomes for sufferers is a high precedence for Dr. Ansell.

“It’s about improving outcomes while minimizing side effects — using treatments that can specifically target the cancer and have less of an impact on the body’s healthy, normal cells,” Dr. Ansell says. “There is a high percentage of patients whose lymphoma is cured. When people are cured, they may have to deal with long-term complications. Our idea is to have the best outcomes and minimize long-term problems.”

Dr. Ansell’s research have included work as a part of Mayo’s Early Cancer Therapeutics Group. The therapeutics analysis group presents sufferers whose cancers have not responded to chemotherapy the chance to be part of early section medical trials of potential new remedies.

People with lymphoma might obtain chemotherapy alone or a mixture of chemotherapy and nonchemotherapy remedies, Dr. Ansell says. Nonchemotherapy options include immunotherapy, chimeric antigen receptor-T cell remedy (CAR-T cell remedy), focused remedy, bone marrow transplant and radiation remedy, he explains:

  • Immunotherapy makes use of the body’s immune system to fight cancer, blocking most cancers cells’ capacity to disguise from the body’s makes an attempt to assault it. There are a number of kinds of immunotherapy. Dr. Ansell’s analysis contributed to the remedy of lymphoma with immune checkpoint remedy, medicine that assist the immune system struggle most cancers cells with out destroying healthy cells.
  • In CAR-T cell therapy, a few of a affected person’s white blood cells, together with T cells, are eliminated and handled within the lab to produce chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, that activate T cells’ capacity to acknowledge and kill most cancers cells. The CAR-T cells are then infused again into the affected person. This type of immunotherapy is taken into account one of the crucial promising areas of most cancers remedy. Dr. Ansell is a member of the CAR-T Cell Therapy Program at Mayo Clinic.
  • Targeted therapy makes use of medicine or different substances — alone or together — to determine and assault abnormalities inside most cancers cells with much less hurt to regular cells. Dr. Ansell is at the moment researching potential new drug mixtures and their unintended effects.
  • A bone marrow transplant, also referred to as a stem cell transplant, infuses healthy blood-forming stem cells into the body to change bone marrow that is not producing sufficient healthy blood cells.
  • Radiation therapy makes use of high-powered power beams, equivalent to X-rays and protons, to kill most cancers cells. For sure kinds of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, radiation remedy would be the solely remedy you want, notably in case your lymphoma is gradual rising and situated in only one or two spots. More generally, radiation is used after chemotherapy to kill any lymphoma cells which may stay.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a recognized method to forestall lymphoma, however a healthy weight loss program and exercise are necessary. They might help sufferers higher address most cancers remedies and have higher outcomes, Dr. Ansell says.


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