For most patients battling cancer, achieving the five-year disease-free mark is one of the most hoped for goals. Half a decade of being cancer-free is a long wait, and researchers from the University of Rochester Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute seem to agree. Their recent study is suggesting patients who were diagnosed with and have survived follicular lymphoma need only aim for two years. The study, titled, “Early Relapse of Follicular Lymphoma After Rituximab Plus Cyclophosphamide, Doxorubicin, Vincristine, and Prednisone Defines Patients at High Risk for Death: An Analysis From the National LymphoCare Study,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Carla Casulo, an oncologist from Wilmot, this difference is based on the statistic that only 20 percent of patients with this disease experience a relapse sooner than two years of treatment. She further explained that patients who relapse before the two-year mark may have a different biology, and that patients diagnosed with follicular lymphoma have a high likelihood of living up to 20 years.
Follicular lymphoma is normally known to progress slowly, marked by extended periods of remission and delayed relapses. “Through research we have confirmed that all relapsed patients are not equal, and therefore should not be approached the same at diagnosis nor at the time of relapse in terms of therapies,” Dr. Casulo said in a news release. “It will be critical to predict who is most likely to relapse early. We believe that targeted sequencing or gene-expression profiling will be important to understanding how to improve the outcomes of this group.”
Co-author Dr. Jonathan W. Friedberg, the director of Wilmot, together with the research team, arrived at these conclusions after studying data from 588 patients known to have Stage 2-4 of the disease. The team then confirmed these findings in a subsequent independent patient cohort.
Dr. Casulo’s study has been shared with the American Society of Hematology (ASH) during its annual conference, and was recognized as one of the meetings most relevant abstracts. Additionally, the National Cancer Institute has begun forming clinical studies for high-risk patients with early-relapsing follicular lymphoma.