ASH 2016: Lymphoma Research News Update

Published on

Topics include: Treatment

What is the latest lymphoma news released at the 2016 American Society of Hematology (ASH) conference? Expert Dr. John Burke of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, on location at the meeting, shares important research advances for follicular, mantle cell and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients.

Produced in collaboration with US Oncology Research.

View more programs featuring and

Produced in association with

Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Mary Windishar:

Hello and welcome to the American Society of Hematology conference.  I'm Mary Windishar.  We're here in San Diego with Dr. John Burke.  We're glad to have you here.  Can you tell us your title? 

Dr. Burke:

Sure.  I practice at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, and I'm the Associate Chair of the US Oncology/Hematology Research Program.  

Mary Windishar:

Glad you joined us today.  Could you tell us what you're finding exciting news here at ASH? 

Dr. Burke:

Yeah.  There are several things in the lymphoma area that are particularly interesting and exciting.  The first is going to be presented this afternoon.  It's a trial in patients with follicular lymphoma, and it's—the trial compared a—the old standard treatment, which was rituximab (Rituxan) given with chemo, with a new drug called obinutuzumab (Gazyva), which is an antibody that targets a protein CD20, just like rituximab does, but it's sort of a new and improved version of rituximab.  

And so the trial as written in the abstract suggests that replacing rituximab with obinutuzumab leads to improved outcomes for patients.  Specifically, it kept the lymphoma in remission for a longer period of time.  We don't yet know whether that's going to translate into longer survival, but at least for patients it's going to help keep the lymphoma in remission for a longer period of time. 

In addition to that, it does that at not too much extra cost in the way of side effects, so the side effects may be incrementally a little bit more with obinutuzumab than with rituximab, but we don't think it's something we can't handle.  And the financial cost is modestly increased but not a major increase in cost either.  So that's one of the most exciting things at this meeting for follicular lymphoma and may establish a new standard treatment for patients with follicular lymphoma who need treatment. 

Mary Windishar:

That is good news.  But did you say there are three different things you want to tell us about for lymphoma patients? 

Dr. Burke:

Sure.  Yeah.  That's one of the more exciting in follicular lymphoma.  There's another form of lymphoma called mantle cell lymphoma, and there's is a study—we currently treat mantle cell lymphoma patients with chemotherapy followed by what's called an autologous stem cell transplantation, which allows us to give pretty high doses of chemotherapy, and then we stop.  

What this study is showing is that if you continue on with rituximab as a maintenance therapy for three years, that that improves outcomes in patients including overall survival.  So it's prolonging the lives of patients with mantle cell lymphoma.  So that's another big finding at this meeting we're going to be hearing about.  

Mary Windishar:

And the third? 

Dr. Burke:

The third is a little bit of a downer in that a lot of us have—have had high hopes that a more aggressive chemotherapy regimen in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma would translate into better outcomes compared with the standard regimen that we call R-CHOP, and unfortunately the results as written—again, we haven't seen the results yet—but as written in the abstract are that the trial was a negative one, that is, the outcomes were not any better with the more aggressive treatment than with the older R-CHOP.  

And so it's a little bit—it's going to change practice because I think a lot of people have been using the newer regimen called EPOCH, and I think we'll see what they show at the meeting today, but again we can't say that there's an overall—overall advantage.  So it's a little bit of a downer, but it's an important finding for people to know about. 

Mary Windishar:

So with those first two pieces of news, you mentioned a longer life, and anything else that we should know that's in it for our patients?  

Dr. Burke:

I think, you know, for the follicular lymphoma patients we now know they are living a very long time already, with an average survival somewhere on the order of 15 years or so with modern therapy.  What I think is the advantage for patients here is that they can go through this initial treatment and then be reassured that their lymphoma will be in remission for longer than it previously was. 

Previously with current therapy, we think the remission duration on average is about six or seven years, and that may be extending even toward eight- to nine-year range now. So that's a nice couple of years for patients where they don't have to think about going back and doing another treatment.  

In the mantle cell patients, I think really the main advantage is just longer life, you know.  I mean, you do have to come into the office and get an infusion once every three months, so there's a little bit of added inconvenience. But it's not too toxic, and again a longer life to be the benefit from that, so.  

Mary Windishar:

Could we get your advice for speaking with your doctor about these new—these breakthroughs? 

Dr. Burke:

Yeah.  I think, first of all for the follicular lymphoma patients I think it's a little early for doctors, say, tomorrow to start prescribing this because the obinutuzumab does not yet have—has not been reviewed by the FDA.  It does not have that labeled indication, and again we haven't even seen the data yet, but I think that will perhaps be coming in the next six months or so, one would hope. 

And with mantle cell lymphoma, I think that is something that doctors could consider doing now.  And so for mantle cell patients who are going to get a transplant I think they need to ask their doctor, hey, have you seen this—these latest data from the meeting suggesting that getting rituximab for a couple of years after the transplant leads to better outcomes, and should I be considering that for me?  So that's what I think they should take home there.  

Mary Windishar:

And as an oncologist/hematologist, what do you think the most important questions that patients and care partners can ask their doctors, just in general?  

Dr. Burke:

Well, as a general rule I think, you know, educating yourselves about the nature of your cancer, about the side effects of treatment, about prognosis, those are really I think the most important questions, and I think for doctors to really be educating their patients and taking time with their patients about what they're about to go through and what they can hope to achieve from the treatment.  Those are kind of the basics of being an oncologist, so. 

Mary Windishar:

Great.  Well, thank you very much, Dr. Burke.  And thank you for joining us here at ASH.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Related Programs

ASH 2016: Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma Treatment News

Learn about new and emerging cutaneous T-cell lymphoma news out from ASH2016, explained by Dr. Steven Horwitz of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Published:

Discussing the Best Therapy With Your Doctor

Nathan Fowler, Associate Professor in the Department of Lymphoma Myeloma at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, explains how patients can benefit from these new treatments through clinical trials.

Published:

How Immunologic Drugs Will Help in Various Types of Cancer

Dr. Nathan Fowler from MD Anderson Cancer Center explains new immunologic drugs in use in various types of cancer.

Published:

Advertisement
Join Our Community Register for Events Read Our Latest Blog
Advertisement

Page last updated on December 29, 2016