The word "cure" is not one that oncologists and cancer researchers like to use very often. Because it only takes a single cancer cell to escape treatment and begin to divide again to derail the whole process, medical professionals prefer to think in terms of static recovery, wherein a person shows no signs of the cancer returnin, but will have to be closely observed for the rest of his life.
Nevertheless, a question is being asked by researchers who have seen remission rates climb steadily higher for the most common forms of lymphoma: Is B-cell lymphoma "curable"? And the answer, sometimes, appears to be, "Yes."
What Is B-cell Lymphoma?
B-cell lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, specifically the B-lymphocytes that help run the body's immune system. It is of the non-Hodgkin's form of lymphoma, and its most frequent variant, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, is the most common lymphatic cancer among adults. It counts for approximately 40 percent of all lymphoma diagnoses.
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is a fast-growing cancer and presents with painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, and groin. Because of its aggressive nature, it is important that the cancer is detected early and treatment begun immediately.
Methods of Treatment
The preferred method of treatment for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is a combination of chemotherapy and antibody therapies. Monoclonal antibody therapy works by coating the cancer cells with certain proteins which trick healthy immune cells into seeing the cancer cells as a foreign threat and help the body's own immune system fight back against the "foreign" cancer cells.
The survival rates for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma are very good, with some estimates putting the five-year survival rate at nearly 60 percent. Even conservative estimates say half of newly diagnosed patients will live at least five years.
One of the reasons for this high survival rate is that diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is an aggressive cancer. Counter-intuitively, some aggressive cancers are easier to treat than more slow-growing one because the rapidly-dividing cells are more susceptible to chemotherapy and antibody therapy.
For these reasons, many oncologists are now pushing for a reassessment of what it means for a cancer to be "curable". B-cell lymphoma, while still a serious medical threat in need of immediate medical intervention, is one of the most manageable cancers, and yes, one of the most easily cured.