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Immunotherapy for Lymphoma
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What Makes Immunotherapy a Promising Treatment for Lymphoma?

Reviewed By: Ronald Levy, M.D.
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Professor and Chief, Division of Oncology, Stanford University
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Lymphoma, a blood cancer that affects the immune cells, is estimated to effect more than 81,000 people in 2016 in the United States, resulting in approximately 21,270 deaths this year. Lymphoma has two main subtypes: non-Hodgkin, accounting for the vast majority (90%) of lymphoma diagnoses, Hodgkin, affecting only about 10% of patients diagnosed. Lymphoma is one of the primary cancers that affects children and young adults.

Hodgkin lymphoma is known as one of the most curable cancer types, while non-Hodgkin lymphoma represents a more aggressive cancer diagnosis, though some patients with fast-growing NHL can be completely cured. Slow-growing NHL treatments are effective in stabilizing the disease for long periods of time.

Chemo, radiation, or combinations of the two are typically used to treat both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas, with stem cell treatment serving as an advanced option in the cases where these more conventional treatments are ineffective. Immunotherapies in the form of checkpoint inhibitors, adoptive cell therapy, monoclonal antibodies, and therapeutic cancer vaccines are all promising areas of modern lymphoma treatment—with many clinical trials currently enrolling or in development. An antibody linked to a chemotherapy drug is approved for the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma in prevention of post-stem cell transplant relapse, while nivolumab and pembrolizumab have been approved for the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma patients whose disease has already relapsed or progressed after treatment. Pembrolizumab is also approved for children with Hodgkin lymphoma. For non-Hodgkin lymphoma, there are two antibodies (rituximab and obinutuzumab), two antibody-drug conjugates (brentuximab vedotin and ibritumomab tiuxetan), one cytokine therapy (Interferon alfa-2b), and one CAR T cell immunotherapy approved for patients. Furthermore, the combination of rituximab and hyaluronidase has been approved follicular lymphoma (FL) and diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

Are you a patient or caregiver interested in learning more about cancer immunotherapy treatment and clinical trials? If so, visit our Patient section on immunotherapy for lymphoma.

CRI's Impact on Lymphoma

Working with our community of donors, we continue to fund groundbreaking scientific research studying the promise and potential of immune-based treatments for Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. CRI-funded scientists are dedicated to discovering more insight into the causation and treatment of lymphoma across all subtypes and stages.

Throughout our history, the scientists we have funded and continue to fund the development and study of more potential lymphoma treatments, including: advanced chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology, the effective remission of blood cancers through alpha interferon, the use of T cells to eliminate lymphoma cells, and insight into the initial mutational causes of lymphomas. With your support, we can improve the outlook of lymphoma for all those affected.

Featured Story

I can’t overstate how lucky I am to have been in the exact right place, at the exact right time, to get a spot in the nivolumab trial.

Ariella Chivil
Lymphoma  |  Diagnosed 2010
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*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.

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