Patients with advanced-stage follicular lymphoma a cancer generally considered incurable who had not been previously treated with any other form of therapy received a single course of treatment with the Bexxar therapeutic regimen, a radioactive antibody injected into the bloodstream that targets and kills cancer cells. Of the 76 patients enrolled in the study, 95 percent responded to the treatment and 75 percent had a complete response, meaning no evidence of cancer remained. More than three-quarters of patients with a complete remission were disease-free after five years.
Results of the study appear in the Feb. 3 New England Journal of Medicine.
"The results of this treatment, which essentially takes only one week to complete, rival any kind of treatment that's been used for follicular lymphoma, including chemotherapy regimens that take months to complete. It's very well-tolerated by patients and we saw complete remission in the majority of patients lasting for years," says lead study author Mark Kaminski, M.D., director of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Program and the Multidisciplinary Lymphoma Clinic at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Kaminski and his colleague Richard Wahl (formerly at U-M and now at Johns Hopkins University) developed the Bexxar regimen, which received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2003 to treat follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after other treatments have failed. The newly published research involves Bexxar as a first-line treatment for this disease.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the nation's sixth leading cause of cancer death, is a cancer of the lymph system, which is part of the immune sys