Tuesday, May 28, 2013

ASCO: Follicular Lymphoma and Rituxan

My computer is still broken, and this crappy loaner netbook is slow and dumb and doesn't let me do half the stuff I want to or need to. But it's time to soldier on.

Back to what I had planned to do almost 2 weeks ago: write about some of the research that's being presented at the ASCO conference this weekend.

ASCO is a conference for clinical oncologists -- not the researchers, but the people on the front lines who take direct care of us. So the presentations tend to be on the practical side.

I don't think anything being presented on Follicular Lymphoma is terribly ground-breaking, but there's still some good stuff there.

The one that looks most interesting to me is called "Impact of rituximab on the course of low-grade follicular lymphoma." It's got all the good stuff in there: Follicular Lymphoma, which I have. Low-grade, which I am. Rituxan, which I had. What's not to like?

The study, which was authored by a group from the University of Nebraska, looks at the Progression Free Survival and Overall Survival of patients who had Rituxan as their initial therapy (like me). The researchers loked at FL patients treated between 1981 and 2010. This would include people in both the Pre-Rituxan and Rituxan Eras (Rituxan was introduced about 1997). They split the patients into three groups: Group I (226 patients) had no Rituxan. Group II (84 patients) had Rituxan as a salvage therapy -- taken after chemo or another treatment stopped working. Group III (110 patients) had Rituxan as their initial treatment.

The basic conclusion is that PFS and OS were better (sometimes significantly better) for patients who has Rituxan, either as slavage or initial treatment. The median PFS for Group I was a little under 6 years. It was close to 10 for the Rituxan groups.

The median OS was even more encouraging. For Group I, it was about 10 years. For Group II, about 16 years. Group III hasn't been around long enough to measure -- that's a very good thing. The longest measurement they have is about 13.5 years. I would expect it to be even higher than 16 years.

Here's where I think this is all most significant: We still read that the median OS for Follicular Lymphoma is about 10 years. That's what it says on the Follicular Lymphoma Wikipedia page, which I'm guessing is the first stop for a lot of newly-diagnosed patients. Studies like this one complicate that figure in positive ways. The 10 year figure is old, but it's the best we've got, in some ways. It comes from a study that measured survival in a very comprehensive way, but before Rituxan was common. So a study like this gives us a better picture of what survival is like in the Rituxan Era.

So maybe we get a little bit of hope out of this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This really brings hope and encouragement! and rituximab is the key long survival,, thanks for posting!! - jeanne