How do you know which Follicular Lymphoma Treatment is right for you? Treatment decisions depend on factors such as symptoms, stage of the cancer, and rate of tumor growth. There are around 250,000 people diagnosed each year with Follicular Lymphoma in the United States, according to Brad Kahl, MD at the Washington University School of Medicine.
Lymphoma is generally a very treatable type of cancer where, in many cases, patients can outlive their diagnosis. However, there are still more aggressive types of Follicular Lymphoma that can be more detrimental to a patent’s wellbeing.
What Types of Follicular Lymphoma Treatments Are Available?
When little to no symptoms are shown, active surveillance may be an option. Active surveillance involves avoiding treatment, but monitoring the tumor closely through checkups, imaging, lab tests, and other evaluations. Active surveillance in the early stages of Follicular Lymphoma has proven to have similar results as early treatment and can be more cost-efficient and less invasive. After symptoms begin to arise or progression of the cancer occurs, active treatment can be initiated.
Follicular Lymphoma is most commonly treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Radiation is usually recommended and effective in providing long-term remission in early stage cancer. However, in more advanced cancer stages, one or more chemotherapy drugs can be prescribed, or the monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) can be used.
Radioimmunotherapy is a treatment that involves using an agent such as yttrium-90 ibritumomab tiuxetan, also known as Zevalin, which is a radioactive particle linked to antibodies that combat cancer cells.
Stem cell transplantations are also used as treatment for follicular lymphoma, mostly in the event of recurrence. The two types of stem cell transplants are autologous transplants and allogeneic transplants. Autologous transplants use stem cells to treat cancer, while allogeneic transplants involve the use of healthy stem cells from a donor.
What are the Benefits and Types of Monoclonal Antibodies?
Monocolonal antibodies target specific markers on B-cells and immune cells that work on breaking down the tumor. Because the tumor breaks down, these kinds of treatment can help improve the patient’s response.
A few common regimens that are used to treat Follicular Lymphoma include:
- R-Bendamustine – a combination of rituximab and bendamustine
- R-CHOP – combines rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone
- R-CVP – combines rituximab, cyclophosphamide, vincristine and prednisone
What Happens After Treatment?
After any successful treatment has been completed, Follicular Lymphoma patients are classified as being in partial or complete remission. Partial remission means that the cancer is still in the body, but the tumor has decreased in size and needs to be monitored to make sure it does not continue growing; however, treatment can be put on hold. For complete remission, the cancer cells appear to be gone and there is no cancer found on exams or scans. The patient is then monitored closely for recurrence.
There are some treatments in clinical trials that are currently being tested on Follicular Lymphoma patients who are newly diagnosed, have had recurrences since treatment, or have shown drug resistance. These treatments include combinations of the following agents: