Rituxan / MabThera Maintenance Therapy

The last article brought up the subject of what to do once a person with low grade b-cell lymphomas reaches remission but has a possibly high likelyhood of relapse.

First of all: don't panic (as with all treatment). I tell that to people who read statistics. While they help the researchers look at lots of people, they do no good to an individual who may stay perfectly healthy and in remission after their primary treatment. If not, then many secondary treatments are often available.

Rituxan (MabThera in the UK) has been approved for treating many types of b-cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphomas (NHL). There have been studies over the last 4 years looking if rituxan, given as maintenance therapy after reaching remission, may help keep a person in a lasting remission. Maintenance therapy is therapy given to help the likelyhood that you'll stay cancer-free.

Looking at the literature, it seems that rituxan maintenance therapy has indeed shown to be beneficial See the following: JCO abstract 2005 & 2006 EORTC trial.

The easy part is talking with your medical team to see if such a treatment is right for your particular situation. The harder part may be to convince insurance companies to pay for it. Since it is still under study, it may be possible to find a clinical trial that would pay for the expenses. In the US, the NCI has a great clinical trial finder.

Update: Friday - The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has recommended 12/15 that MabThera (brand name for rituximab in the UK) be recommended for maintenance therapy for qualified Scottish patients. article

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