Understanding Targeted Therapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Posted on February 6th, 2009 by

Targeted therapies are anticancer drugs that are designed to treat cancer cells while minimizing damage to normal, healthy cells. These drugs, which may be used in the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, interfere with specific pathways involved in cancer cell growth or survival. Some targeted therapies block growth signals from reaching cancer cells; others reduce the blood supply to cancer cells; and still others stimulate the immune system to recognize and attack the cancer cell. Depending on the specific “target,” targeted therapies may slow cancer cell growth or increase cancer cell death.

Targeted therapies may be used in combination with other cancer treatments such as conventional chemotherapy.

Advances in science and technology have led to the development of several different types of targeted therapies, which target cancer through different mechanisms. These include targeted therapy for  non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Targeted Therapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Rituxan® (rituximab) is FDA approved for the treatment of certain types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).  Rituxan is a monoclonal antibody—a protein that fights cancer by binding to a portion of B-cells (which are cancerous in many forms of NHL) called the CD20 antigen. The binding action blocks cell activation and growth and may cause direct anticancer effects to the cell as well.

Benefits of Targeted Therapy

By focusing their effects on specific characteristics of cancer cells, targeted therapies provide effective cancer treatment with fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy. Because targeted therapies are generally well tolerated, they can often be combined with other cancer therapies such as chemotherapy in order to improve treatment effectiveness.

Risks of Targeted Therapy

Though targeted therapies tend to cause less damage to normal cells than conventional chemotherapy or radiation therapy, there are some potential side effects. Talk with your doctor or read the prescribing information for more complete information about potential side effects.

Learn Whether Targeted Therapy Is Right for You

Determining whether a specific targeted therapy is appropriate for your cancer requires consideration of many factors, including the type, stage, and previous treatment. In addition, the specific characteristics of your cancer may need to be evaluated.

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Tags: Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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