A relatively new type of treatment for lymphoma is showing interesting results in its effects on the occurrence of primary malignancies that may appear among patients who survive the initial disease. Researchers recently learned that rituximab changes the primary malignancies witnessed. Patients with large B-cell lymphoma, for example, may see their risk for acute myeloid leukemia nearly double while the risk for kidney, thyroid, head and neck cancers also goes up. Researchers, however, found that the drug’s introduction into the treatment plan may decrease the likelihood of other cancers forming.
To arrive at the findings, researchers documented risks for secondary primary malignancies in more than 23,000 patients who survived for at least a year after diagnosis. Patients were further classified by those diagnosed before rituximab was introduced in 2001 and after. Patient populations were followed on average for 12 years.
Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that is considered a highly targeted therapy for lymphoma. The drug is able to target specific cells, such as those related to cancer, making it a valuable treatment for patients with lymphoma. By going after certain cells, rituximab is able to spare many healthy cells, making it potentially less toxic for patients.
The American Cancer Society estimate about 72,000 people across the United States will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the coming year. An estimated 20,000 will die from this cause. Patients who are concerned about this condition or have been diagnosed with it are urged to talk with their doctors about their options. Treatment advice may vary based on a particular patient’s case. Rituximab may be considered an important prong in an overall treatment plan for the primary lymphoma. Patients are urged to speak with their doctors about the potential risks and benefits of any treatment recommended before selecting a course of action.