Velcade Delays Disease Progression in MCL Study, But Brings Risks

One of the goals of treatment for a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the delay of disease progression. As reported by Cancer Updates, Research and Education (CARE), a recent study investigated whether adding a proteasome inhibitor following chemotherapy and stem cell transplant results in a longer delay of disease progression. The results carried some caveats. You can read about the study in more detail here at CARE.

About Mantle Cell Lymphoma

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a type of blood cancer affecting immune cells within a part of the lymph node called the mantle zone. Although slow-growing, MCL is often widespread by the time symptoms appear, necessitating aggressive treatment options.

According to the National Institutes of Health, people with MCL may experience lymph node swelling, night sweats, unexplained fevers or weight loss and fatigue – though some people may be asymptomatic or show few signs at all. It’s classified as a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and most commonly occurs in men in their 60s.

The recommended treatment, as outlined in the study of Velcade’s efficacy in delaying disease progression, is chemotherapy followed by maintenance treatment with Rituxan (rituximab) an intravenous antibody that targets and slows the growth of cancer proteins. On average, patients following this course of treatment went 5 years without experiencing disease progression.

About Velcade(bortezomib)

A proteasome inhibitor, Velcade™  targets a cancer cell’s ability to get rid of waste, killing or disabling it. The study notes that Velcade was chosen for further study as it has been shown to help MCL patients who experience a relapse. The study looked at two groups of post-chemotherapy and stem cell-transplant patients. The first group was treated with Velcadefor three months and the other group received maintenance treatment with the medication for 18 months. Disease progression was tracked in the two groups for up to 10 years.

The Results

Both groups experienced a delay in disease progression by an average of 8 years and survival rates were higher. Outcomes were dependent on the level of aggressiveness of the patents’ MCL, with 52% of low-risk patents experiencing no disease progression, versus 28.2% in high-risk patients. The results were not without side effects, however. Patients reported fatigue, blood count drops, and tingling in the arms or feet. Additionally, 21 patients in the study dropped out because of the side effects. Another trial is studying the effects of Velcadetreatment in MCL patients without the preceding chemotherapy and stem-cell transplants.

Read more about the study at CURE or check out the findings that were published in the American Journal of Hematology.

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