July 08--A new drug has been approved to battle mantle cell lymphoma, an
aggressive cancer often fatal because of its resistance to treatment, after a
study led by a Hackensack University Medical Center physician showed it can stop
the progression of the disease in about a quarter of the patients.
Revlimid, a drug taken orally, was granted approval by the Food and Drug
Administration last month after a study led by Dr. Andre Goy involving 134
patients showed 26 percent of patients responded to the medication. Nine
patients showed a complete remission by the end of the clinical trial, according
to the FDA.
Before the study, all of the patients had been treated with chemotherapy and
their disease had either never regressed or had returned, Goy said.
"Patients were heavily pretreated and were a poor risk," Goy said. "That's why
this is so important. Many of these patients had few other options."
The drug's side effects caused 76 patients to interrupt treatment for at least
one dose and caused 19 patients to discontinue treatment. Among the adverse
effects are decreases in white blood cells or platelets, anemia, diarrhea,
nausea, rash and fatigue, according to National Institutes of Health.
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects certain white blood cells, called
lymphocytes. Mantle cell lymphoma is a specific kind of the disease typically
found in the lymph nodes, spleen, marrow and blood. It is rare and usually
aggressive, with a median survival rate of only four to five years.
The disease affects nearly 4,000 Americans each year and occurs more frequently
in males, usually in their mid-60's. Symptoms include, among other conditions, a
loss of appetite and weight loss, fever, night sweats, nausea and/or vomiting,
abdominal pain or bloating, or discomfort due to enlarged tonsils.
Revlimid, which works primarily by stimulating the immune system to fight the
cancer, has been approved at this time only for those patients who have relapsed
with the disease.
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