“With follicular lymphoma, half of patients relapse. What can be done? Now this question posed by Professor Gilles Salles, a haematologist at the Hospices Civils de Lyon, has an answer. At the Conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, he revealed the positive results achieved in preventing relapse with this type of lymphoma.
The work he presented at a plenary session is the largest study conducted into follicular lymphoma, involving 225 departments in 25 countries with the eventual recruitment of 1,028 patients, the majority in France.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a maintenance treatment in preventing relapse. “This involved, after initial treatment with a combination of rituximab – a monoclonal antibody type treatment (ed. note) – and chemotherapy, the continuation of treatment in order to control the disease better and prevent relapse”, he explained. The protocol chosen for this study relied on the administration of rituximab in a hospital environment, at a rate of once every 2 months.
“Among patients who continued to be treated (in this way), the risk of the cancer progressing was reduced by half compared with those patients who did not receive maintenance treatment”, Professor Gilles Salles reported. “The number of relapses decreased, (and this form of) maintenance treatment will probably become a new standard treatment among patients suffering from follicular lymphoma”. An extension of the marketing authorisation has already been filed with the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Follicular lymphoma is relatively common: it accounts for 20% to 30% of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. Each year between 2,000 and 3,000 cases are diagnosed in France. They generally affect adults who are middle-aged or older. For further information, visit the Association France Lymphome Espoir: http://www.francelymphomeespoir.fr/.