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New Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Drug Passes Hurdle

Bexxar May Have Potential as Initial Treatment for Follicular Lymphoma

New First-Line Treatment for Lymphoma? continued...

The rate at which the cancer returned progressively declined over time: 25%, 13%, and 12% during the first, second, and third years after treatment, respectively.

Of the 57 patients who had a complete remission, 40 remained in remission for four to seven years.

Researchers say the toxicity or hazardous side effects of Bexxar were moderate, and none of the patients treated required transfusions or other serious therapy-related complications.

Researchers say the results of this study support using the drug early in the treatment of follicular lymphoma. However, another study is needed to compare the safety and effectiveness of this approach vs. currently available therapies and in a larger number of patients.

No Lymphoma Cure Yet

In an editorial that accompanies the study, Joseph M. Connors, MD, of the British Columbia Cancer Center Agency, says the high response and remission rates with this treatment after four years of follow-up is encouraging.

"For a treatment accomplished in just a few weeks with modest toxicity, these results are especially impressive," writes Connors. "But how impressive? Sufficient enough to claim that patients are being cured? No, relapses are still occurring in 4 percent to 5 percent of patients per year, even after five years. Sufficient to justify 131-I-tositumomab as a primary treatment for follicular lymphoma? No. Sufficient to justify additional clinical trials? Yes."

Connors points out that the patients in the study were a highly select group of younger-than-average patients with a low-to-moderate disease burden, and the drug still needs more study before it's adopted as a first line of treatment for follicular lymphoma.

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