Molecular marker could be milestone for Hodgkin's treatment

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Four of five Hodgkins patients are cured with primary therapy.

One of five relapses. Why?

A team of two dozen researchers based largely out of the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada believe they know, and editors from the New England Journal of Medicine are calling it a long-awaited "breakthrough". It is perhaps the most significant advancement in the study of Hodgkin's lymphoma in years.

The minority of patients who relapse and sometimes die if they don't receive more aggressive therapy appear to have something in their tumors the others don't: a high number of white cells called CD68-positive macrophages (scavenger cells). It appears that the more of these cells in the tumor, the shorter the 10-year survival rate, the more aggressive the secondary treatment required.

The astonishing news is that this is a molecular marker. It can be tested for, and predicted, and treatment can be varied accordingly. In fact this correlation can predict success or failure of secondary treatment following relapse.

The implications of this discovery are potentially astounding; we'll stay on top of this story as it develops.

By Ross Bonander

Read the press release

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