Though much of the lymphoma research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in December 2014 focused on the growing number of novel therapies for this disease, a subset of presentations focused on the impact of non-pharmaceutical treatment issues such as patient quality of life, maintenance scans, and the presence or absence of various risk factors. These studies, a selection of which are summarized below, demonstrate that research beyond pharmaceutical trials is a crucial component of continuing to improve survival rates in lymphoma.
The growing effectiveness of immunochemotherapy treatments in follicular lymphoma (FL) has prolonged overall survival for patients with that subtype, to the extent that many patients die not from their disease, but from other causes common to their age and gender. In a study utilizing the University of Iowa/Mayo Clinic SPORE database, researchers examined the records of 936 newly diagnosed FL patients in, measuring the patients’ event free survival (time from diagnosis to progression, relapse, re-treatment or death from any cause) and overall survival rates. They found that patients who achieved an event free survival of 12 months post-diagnosis had overall survival rates comparable to the general population, regardless of whether they had an event after the 12 month mark. Meanwhile, the 17 percent of patients who had an event prior to 12 months post-diagnosis had poorer overall survival. Similar rates and results were found in a replication study of a hospital registry in Lyon, France.
The researchers, including LRF Scientific Advisory Board members Stephen M. Ansell, MD, PhD, Thomas E. Witzig, MD and Thomas M. Habermann, MD of Mayo Clinic and Brian K. Link, MD of the University of Iowa, noted that their results may be useful for future recommendations for patient care and counseling, as well as for establishing endpoints in other FL clinical studies. The abstract for this study may be viewed here.