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Doctors are working to learn more about CLL, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Most cancer centers are focused on clinical trials aimed at increasing the number of patients who have a CR. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.
New drugs and drug combinations. Researchers are working to find new drugs for CLL. These types of studies are often first used for patients when the standard treatment no longer works. Different combinations of chemotherapy and antibody therapy are also being studied as a way to increase the likelihood that a patient will have a CR and live longer. Several new oral drugs that show considerable promise for CLL are now in clinical trials, including drugs that inhibit a specific process that CLL cells use to spread called the Bruton tyrosine kinase signaling pathway.
Stem cell/bone marrow transplantation. Researchers are looking at decreasing the side effects of stem cell transplantation by using reduced intensity transplantation, which may mean more patients could have stem cell transplantation. Also being studied in clinical trials are different approaches to ALLO transplantation for patients with CLL when chemotherapy is not working well.
Genetics. Finding genetic changes specific to CLL cells is also being researched, which may help predict how well treatment will work, determine the best treatment, and provide information about the cause of the disease. Examples include measuring the immunoglobulin mutations (changes) of the CLL cells, finding the chromosomal abnormalities found in the CLL cells, and finding a protein called Zap70 on the surface of the CLL cells. Some research suggests that these markers can predict the likelihood that the disease may worsen faster. However, there are many differences in these genetic changes among patients, and it is too early to use these tests to make decisions about when to begin treatment and the type of treatment to use.
Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current CLL treatments in order to improve patients' comfort and quality of life.
Learn more about common statistical terms used in cancer research.
Looking for More about Current Research?
If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding CLL, explore these related items:
- To find clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, talk with your doctor or search online clinical trial databases now.
- Review research announced at recent scientific meetings or in ASCO's peer-reviewed journals.
- Read ASCO's latest Clinical Cancer Advances report, which highlights top research findings over the past year.
- Visit ASCO's CancerProgress.Net website to learn more about the historical pace of research for CLL.
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