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Clinical focus: Follicular lymphoma

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dr. John Leonard Though indolent in nature and generally responsive to treatment, follicular lymphoma (FL) remains an incurable disease, despite the fact that median overall survival exceeds 10 years. And about 15-20 percent of patients with newly diagnosed follicular lymphoma have rapidly evolving, progressive disease that results in death within 2 or 3 years. 

The inability to identify these high-risk patients early on and consider alternative treatment strategies "is one of the biggest unmet needs in follicular lymphoma," John Leonard, MD,, Richard T. Silver Distinguished Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology, told MedPage Today in this article about options for follicular lymphoma patients in relapse.

The increased longevity of patients with follicular lymphoma has been accompanied by increased emphasis on patients' quality of life, but quality-of-life assessment has not kept pace with research in the basic or clinical science of the disease, Leonard added. Moving forward, more attention should be given to patients' overall health status.

"This is another great unmet need," said Leonard. "What really matters to the patient is quality of life. We have various options for treating the disease and extending life, but we have not really assessed quality of life or the relative merits of the different treatment options on quality of life. That should be a research priority for the future."

In another article, he commented about changes in the choice of chemotherapy for patients with high tumor burden.

"Use of bendamustine has become much more common... it offers patients a chemotherapy option that has less toxicity than older regimens, such as CHOP, and I think that's a positive development."

Dr. Leonard also covered the topic recently as part of a new series of videos he is producing alongside other physicians and researchers in the Weill Lymphoma Program to shed light on research relevant to lymphoma patients. The REDLAMP - Review of Emerging Data for Lymphoma Patients - podcast features brief faculty reviews, presented in an informal, understandable way. Episide 2 (below) includes a discussion of a study about characteristics, treatment, prognosis, outcomes and mortality in elderly follicular lymphoma patients.