New Study Supports Maintenance Therapy for Some Lymphoma Patients

A study out of Rabin Medical Center in Petah-Tivka, Israel and reported on Reuters indicates that post-chemo maintenance therapy with the drug Rituxan (rituximab, MabThera) can help lymphoma patients live longer. Statistically speaking, the study found that those who remain on the drug post-chemo for as many as two years were “40 percent more likely to be alive after three years compared with those who stopped.”

Their results derived from looking at five randomized trials involving 985 people and focused on those with follicular lymphoma, among the most common types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Treatment of follicular lymphoma typically involves high doses of chemotherapy and a transplant of bone marrow stem cells. Nonetheless, relapse is not uncommon.

What is Rituxan? Rituxan is a genetically-engineered monoclonal antibody designed to suppress the immune system. And here’s where the problem develops—maintaining a suppressed immune system makes all types of infection more likely, and the study showed that patients who remained on the Rituxan suffered double the infection rate of those not on the drug.

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