DENVER, Colo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Eighty thousand people will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma – 20,000 will die from it. It usually strikes people in their sixties, but can occur at any age. There are several types of it, and the rarer the form, the less likely you will survive it. This disease has been brought into the forefront after a popular actor was diagnosed this year, and it’s new medication and novel therapies that will give patients the best chance at beating it.
He’s battled prehistoric predators in Jurassic Park, but is now in an even more courageous battle. Earlier this year, actor Sam Neill announced he had angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, also known as AITL.
A new chemo drug put Neill in remission, but his diagnosis has shown a light on this rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
University of Colorado at the Anschutz Campus oncologist, Bradley Haverkos, MD, says, “Sam Neil presented, kind of, right at the right median age of when most people are diagnosed with this; they commonly present with things like fever, chills, night sweats, some weight loss.”
Oncologists say there are promising new therapies in the pipeline for AITL. The first targets a biomarker in the Epstein Barr virus that is also present in patients with AITL. They use a combination of drugs to kill the virus.
“We can get rid of the lymphoma cells ’cause we think the virus, in part, drives the cancer. We’re also very interested to see if we can develop ways so that your own immune system can fight this cancer, as well,” Dr. Haverkos adds.
There’s a lot riding on these new therapies. Dr. Haverkos says only 25 percent of people are alive five years after diagnosis. Once you relapse with this disease, it’s generally incurable.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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TOPIC: TARGETING RARE CANCERS: BREAKTHROUGHS BATTLE LYMPHOMAS
REPORT: MB #5266
BACKGROUND: Lymphomas are cancers that grow in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system consists of the lymph nodes, bone marrow, thymus gland, and spleen. The most common type is non-Hodgkin lymphoma, accounting for four percent of all cancers. Over 80,000 people will get non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and about 20,000 will die from it in 2023. In addition to non-Hodgkin, there are five other types: chronic lymphocytic leukemia, cutaneous B-cell lymphoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.
DIAGNOSING: Symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma include, but are not limited to: swelling in the lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and/or itchy skin. Doctors can diagnose the disease with a physical exam, lymph node testing, blood tests, bone marrow testing, CT scan, MRIs, or PET scans. Standard ways to treat lymphomas are: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or a bone marrow transplant.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: The treatment for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is evolving. The newest treatments include targeted therapies, immunotherapy treatments, and vaccinations. Targeted therapies consist of drugs to kill the cancer cells. A couple of those drugs are Venclexta and Tafasitamab. The immunotherapy treatments focus on CAR T-cell therapy. The vaccinations are still in clinical trials.
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