It’s a new era for lymphoma treatment, and it’s an exciting time to be a part of it. The advent of targeted therapies such as monoclonal antibodies have revolutionized the manner in which we approach everything from initial diagnosis, pathology, and treatment planning to prognosis assessments.
- Researchers can now examine the cancer cell, not only at its surface, but also at the molecular level, thanks to specialized PCR cytogenetics and flow cytometric techniques.
- We can identify unique molecular characteristics (e.g., expression of certain surface proteins, specific pathways that may be upregulated, chromosomal rearrangements or other distinguishing molecular features).
- RPCI physicians are now developing agents that target or attack these particular features of the cancer cell, thereby directing therapy largely to the tumor cell and limiting effects on healthy tissue.
In the past, even with a diagnosis of a specific lymphoma type, a patient would receive the same therapy given for all subtypes. Now we look at not only the diagnosis, but also the molecular profile of the cancer, which may be very different in two patients with the exact same diagnosis.
The team then determines whether the patient’s cancer has a profile that can be targeted with a drug that that works against certain very critical proteins, pathways or molecules in that specific lymphoma. These targeted approaches are more effective against the cancer, and they are less toxic, with fewer side effects than standard systemic chemotherapy regimens.
The Blood and Marrow Transplant Center
The Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Center at RPCI performs approximately 100 to 120 blood and marrow transplants each year, treating patients with hematologic disorders including acute and chronic leukemias, aplastic anemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome and selected solid tumors. RPCI’s BMT unit was designed for patient safety and comfort. The unit, and its 14 private patient rooms, are HEPA-filtered to maintain the highest protection against airborne pathogens. The nursing staff is specially trained in the management and care of immunocompromised BMT patients and their special needs.