Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Lymphoma - Non-Hodgkin

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 9/2013
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ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of lymphoma and how to treat it. To see other pages in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.

Doctors are working to learn more about NHL, 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. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

Gene profiling. As scientists learn more about the genetics and the specific role that gene mutations (changes) have in the development of cancer, they are better able to classify and diagnose subtypes of NHL. These gene profiling methods can help estimate prognosis for patients with certain types of lymphoma and are used primarily in lymphoma research, but in the next few years it is likely that treatments will be designed that work against specific genetic changes and counteract their effects.

Immunotherapy. As explained in the Treatment Options section, many new antibodies are being developed that boost the body’s natural defenses against cancer. Some attach to the surface of tumor cells, while others have radioactive substances or chemotherapy attached to them and can deliver treatment directly to lymphoma cells.

Targeted therapies. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to the cancer's growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to normal cells. There are many targeted treatments for lymphoma in early clinical trials and being studied in laboratories including BCL-2 inhibitors and aurora kinase inhibitors.

Vaccines. Several therapeutic vaccines have been studied in clinical trials, mostly for indolent lymphoma (see the Subtypes section for a description of this type of NHL). They are not meant to prevent lymphoma but to lower the chance that a lymphoma will come back after treatment with chemotherapy or antibody therapy. So far, results from vaccine studies have not shown better results than other treatments, but research to improve vaccines is ongoing.   

Other drug studies. Different combinations of chemotherapy and different chemotherapy schedules (sometimes with antibodies or radiolabeled antibodies) are being studied in clinical trials. Also, many new drugs that work differently from standard chemotherapy are now being evaluated in clinical trials.

Stem cell transplantation. The use of different types of stem cell transplantation, including allogeneic or reduced intensity (mini-allogeneic or non-ablative) transplants, are also being tested for patients with newly diagnosed disease and for those who have had a recurrence after the initial treatment. For many types of lymphoma, the best way to use stem cell transplantation is still uncertain, which is why clinical trials on this treatment are in progress. Learn more about stem cell transplantation.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current NHL treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More about the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding NHL, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

To continue reading this guide, choose “Next” (below, right) to see a section about coping with the side effects of the disease or its treatment. Or, use the colored boxes located on the right side of your screen to visit any section.

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