Cancer Drug Improves Survival Rates in Hodgkin Lymphoma Patients

TON - Daily

A new drug, brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris), dramatically improved survival rates in Hodgkin lymphoma patients who have failed other treatments and are running out of options.

Loyola University Medical Center oncologist Scott E. Smith, MD, PhD, presented survival data at the 17th Congress of the European Hematology Association from a multicenter study that included 102 Hodgkin lymphoma patients who had relapsed following stem cell transplants. Tumors shrank by at least half in 40% of patients and disappeared in 32% of patients. Some tumor shrinkage was present in 21% of patients. Only 6% of patients had no response to the drug.

At 24 months, 65% of patients were alive, and in 25% of patients, the cancer had not progressed at all.

The FDA approved brentuximab vedotin in 2011 for patients who have either failed an autologous stem cell transplant, are ineligible for a stem cell transplant, or have failed 2 multidrug chemotherapy regimens.

Attached to a powerful chemotherapy drug, brentuximab vedotin is an antibody that acts like a homing signal and brings the chemo drug to lymphoma cells.

“Brentuximab represents a very interesting new concept in the fight against cancer,” said oncologist Tulio Rodriguez, MD, medical director of Loyola’s Bone Marrow Transplantation Program. “It delivers powerful chemotherapy right where it needs to be – into the cancer cell.”

The standard drug regimen is a 30-minute infusion every 3 weeks, and a patient typically receives 16 doses over 48 weeks. Loyola has administered about 500 doses to 60 patients. “A lot of our patients are doing great on this regimen,” Smith said.

Not only does the cancer disease negatively impact cancer patients, but often chemotherapy treatments do, too. Targeted drugs such as brentuximab can spare patients from the debilitating side effects of traditional chemotherapy, Rodriguez said. The study results showed that brentuximab side effects were generally mild, with only 9% of patients suffering severe peripheral neuropathy, 2% extreme fatigue, and 1% experiencing severe diarrhea.

Source: Loyola Medicine.

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