Radiation Unnecessary in Young Lymphoma Patients

Results of a recent study could spare some lymphoma patients the problems associated with radiotherapy without compromising the efficacy of their treatment.

The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, pertain to a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma subtype known as primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma. Standard treatment guidelines include both systemic chemotherapy as well as radiation to the chest. The radiation has been identified as a significant risk factor for cardiotoxicity and secondary cancers, especially in women.

All patients achieved remission without radiation therapy

In this study, investigators demonstrated that with the proper dosing of combination chemotherapy, remission could be achieved without the need for radiation.

The sample size was small, involving only 51 patients, but the study followed them for 14 years. The combination chemotherapy regimen given was dose-adjusted EPOCH-R (etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone and rituximab).

"These results are exciting and demonstrate that, using this approach, almost all patients appear to be cured and very few patients require radiation," said study co-author Dr. Kieron Dunleavy, of the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, which typically affects people between the teenage years into the 30s, is an aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that can quickly prove lethal if left untreated. In this study, however, all of the patients went into remission and most of them are currently considered 'cured' of the disease.

Source: NEJM

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