04 July 2018

Survival times for mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) have almost doubled since the introduction of new targeted drugs, a study has revealed. 

Researchers at the University of York examined the impact of introducing the chemotherapy drug bendamustine and the targeted, non-chemotherapy drug ibrutinib for treating mantle cell lymphoma. 

They found that survival times increased from eight months in patients who relapsed in the years 2004-11 to 17 months in those who relapsed in 2012-15. 

The number of patients over 70 years old who survive for a year or more after relapse has nearly doubled since 2004. This, suggest the researchers, means new targeted drugs are benefitting older patients who are unable to undergo intensive treatment.

The researchers followed the treatment of 335 people with MCL in hospitals across Yorkshire and Humberside between 2004 and 2015. 

Survival times for newly diagnosed patients increased on average from two years to three and a half years over the period, says the report, which is published in the British Journal of Haematology.

The researchers said the improvements followed the combination of initial chemotherapy treatment with rituximab. 

Lead researcher Russell Patmore from the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York said: “While the outlook for people with mantle cell lymphoma is still relatively poor compared to other types of lymphoma, our study has shown that the introduction of new therapies has improved survival times.

“This study shows the importance of monitoring the impact of treatment changes to see if they are making a difference, especially in rarer forms of cancer where it is difficult to conduct large-scale clinical trials.”

Liz Burtally, research communications manager at Bloodwise, which funded the research, added: “These new drugs can give precious months or years to people’s lives. This important study shows where new treatments and treatment combinations are working for patients and where improvements can be made.”

Source: Smith, A., Roman, E., Appleton, S., Howell, D., Johnson, R., Burton, C. and Patmore, R., 2018. Impact of novel therapies for mantle cell lymphoma in the real world setting: a report from the UK's Haematological Malignancy Research Network (HMRN). British journal of haematology, 181(2), pp.215-228. 

Link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bjh.15170


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