New Treatments for Follicular Lymphoma Dramatically Increase Survival

New treatment advances for patients with follicular lymphoma, previously considered a near incurable cancer, have reduced deaths in the first four years by 70 percent. A newly published study recommends that doctors carefully choose their patients' initial therapies because there are significant differences in overall survival rates, according to researchers at the Univ. of Rochester Medical Center's Wilmot Cancer Center.

Scientists compared outcomes for 960 patients treated with three different regimens; survival rates vary from 91 percent for the newest treatments, which include monoclonal antibodies, to 69 percent for standard therapy, CHOP chemotherapy.

"This is real evidence that the clinical advances we've made over the last 30 years are prolonging lives," said Richard I. Fisher, M.D., director of the Wilmot Cancer Center and lead author on a paper published online by the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "Some of the new therapies that include monoclonal antibodies have revolutionized treatment of this disease."

Follicular lymphoma, a slow-growing cancer of the lymphatic system, affects about 30,000 older adults each year in the U.S. Median survival has been seven to 10 years, but until this study, there was no evidence of any recent improvements.

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