Aiming at a Curative Strategy for Follicular Lymphoma
Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Hematology; and Director, Immunotherapy Program, Cell Therapy Area, University of Navarra Hospital, Pamplona, Spain
Follicular lymphoma is often managed as an incurable disease. However, a substantial and growing fraction of patients are achieving long-term disease-free survival from aggressive treatment approaches.
The application of novel therapeutic tools, including monoclonal antibodies, radioimmunotherapy, and vaccines, as well as new and more active chemotherapeutic agents, is producing complete responses in the majority of treated patients, with a 2-fold increase in disease- and progression-free survival in randomized trials. For some of these treatment approaches, follow up has not yet been long enough to determine a median response duration, but it certainly exceeds the "2 to 3 years" that is routinely stated as dogma to patients with this illness.
Furthermore, some patients remain in complete remission beyond a decade from their initial treatment, implying that the assumption of inevitable relapse also must be challenged. One clear fact is that no patients will ever be cured by adopting a palliative treatment approach.
The assumption that patients with follicular lymphoma are incurable is certain to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Here the author summarizes the large and growing body of knowledge that suggests an expectant approach to management is not appropriate for all patients.
CITATION CA Cancer J Clin. 2008 Sep-Oct;58(5):305-17