Better Diagnoses, Treatments Doubling Survival in NHL, Says Report

A new report from the UK's largest cancer charity credits better diagnosis and treatment for doubling survival rates of patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) since the early 1970s.

A report by Cancer Research UK, co-written with the Haematological Malignancy Research Network, demonstrates the dramatic rise in survival rates for NHL patients over the last 40 years. According to their research, more than half of today's NHL patients are surviving for at least 10 years compared to under one-quarter of those patients four decades ago.

Better diagnosis and treatment

The report notes that the UK experiences about 12,000 new NHL diagnoses annually (just under one-sixth the number of new diagnoses in the United States each year) and gives some credit to the arrival of the monoclonal antibody Rituxan (MabThera) to higher survival rates, along with earlier and more accurate diagnoses of the disease as well as a greater understanding of the many subtypes of the disease. This despite not knowing what causes the disease in the first place – knowledge likely still very far away.

The report does note that long-term survival is not independent of subtype; rather it is something of the other way around. The example used is the diagnosis of the aggressive B-cell NHL mantle cell lymphoma, in which patients have only a one in four chance of surviving for more than five years.

Said Dr. Russell Patmore, consultant hematologist at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and one of the report’s co-authors:

Years of research have improved our understanding of NHL and how best to treat it. We now know there are more than 20 subtypes of the disease, each with their own distinct patterns of incidence and prognosis. By knowing which type we’re dealing with, treatment can be tailored so it has the greatest benefit to patients. When we know the type of lymphoma we’re dealing with, we can use more targeted therapies like rituximab. It’s important that future research focuses on early detection and classification of lymphoma sub-types, as well as improving the quality of life for people living with the disease.

Source: Cancer Research UK

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