Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) is a particular form of lymphoma (cancer involving the lymph nodes) that has begun to affect more and more patients across the world. Unlike most cancers, there have been a large amount of success stories of treatment options that help patients beat the disease. In fact, 3 out of 4 patients tend to be free of the disease after treatment, an exceptionally high cure rate for cancer. However, that does not mean that DLBCL should not be taken seriously. Researchers are constantly looking for new more efficient treatment options that cause less pain (physical and financial) to the patient. One agent in particular has shown exceptional promise in curing DLBCL quickly and painlessly.
This agent, referred to as JCAR017, was created by Juno Therapeutics as part of the Juno Cancer Therapy Research Pipeline. JCAR017 is a drug that can be taken in single or double doses, and has been designed to try and treat Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, DLBCL, Follicular Lymphoma, Mantle-Cell Lymphoma, or Primary Mediastinal B-Agent Lymphoma. The drug attempts to target the CD-19 protein in T cell therapy in order to boost immunity against the Lymphoma cells. JCAR017 is fairly new, and is currently in the experimental stages of its life cycle. Juno Therapeutics has been developing cancer therapy alternatives for quite some time, so researchers believed JCAR017 to be a promising treatment for DLBCL.
In the study, JCAR017 was given to 67 patients with a particularly poor prognosis (chance of survival. Researchers measured the complete response rate and (CR) and objective response rate (ORR). The complete response rate describes when any complete response to the drug is observed (a complete disappearance of the target bacteria). The objective response rate measures complete and partial responses. Partial responses may show a reduction in cancer cells in a certain area, but not a complete disappearance. In three months the CR rate among the patients taking JCAR017 was around 50 percent. The ORR was slightly higher at 66 percent. Of those responding at three months, 90 percent were still responding after 9 or 10 months. 97 percent of the patients remained alive after the 3-month follow up, a very impressive number considering the prognoses.
It's easy to get lost in all the lingo and numbers, but overall the results of the study are promising. JCAR017 was shown to be very effective, even on patients with poor prognoses. Although the response rate wasn't perfect, the amount of complete responses showed that the drug could get rid of lymphoma cells and symptoms. Time will tell how affordable JCAR017 will be, and if replicated studies show similar results.
Current Treatment Options
Unfortunately, JCAR017 is still in the clinical trial phase, and may not be put on the market for years. However, patients who catch DLCBL early will have a much easier time getting treatment for the disease. We are going to give some of the telltale signs that you may be developing a form of lymphoma. If you experience any of these signs it would be best to consult your doctor and figure out if lymphoma might be the cause.
- Swelling- The cancer growth that Lymphoma causes can often lead to a blocked blood vessel, which could lead to a swelling of the face, chest, or neck. In some cases the swelling may also be found in the stomach or intestines. The swelling caused by DLCBL is often very severe, and will lead to significant pain. Loss of appetite, irregular bowel movements, or diarrhea could indicate a swelling of your stomach or intestines.
- Lumps- Enlarged lymph nodes (often called lumps) could indicate a presence of lymphoma. These lumps can be easy to miss as they are painless and cause no discomfort. Learning the location of the lymph nodes (they aren't just on the neck) is key to finding these types of lumps. If you notice any enlargements or lumps you should try and see a doctor just to be sure.
- Pain- Lymphoma is often painless in preliminary stages. However, if it affects certain organs it may cause pain in localized areas. Patients who have lymphoma of the brain often get debilitating migraines that are impossible to relieve, whereas stomach lymphoma causes severe stomach cramps where one can barely walk. If you experience severe pain that can't be relieved for three days or more, consider heading to your nearest doctor.
- Weight Loss- Like many other forms of cancer, lymphoma can cause a quick and substantial loss of weight. Patients have been known to lose 10-15 pounds in less than six weeks with no discernible changes to their exercise and dieting patterns. The reason for this is twofold. First, the tumors absorb your bodies energy and calories. Second, the cancer lowers the appetite and leaves the patient with less food consumption and too little calories.
- Severe Fever- If you suddenly get fevers without the appearance of a cold or flu, this could be a sign of lymphoma. These fevers will often be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes. If you find your body temperature rising, a feeling of being unwell, excessive sweating, changes in appetite, or other feverish symptoms happening for no apparent reason it would be best to see a doctor.
- Night Sweats- A very common symptom in lymphoma patients is called hyperhidrosis, or an intense, excessive sweat. Patients often find this happening at night and will wake being completely drenched in sweat. If this happens to you, you should see a doctor right away.
- Fatigue- Lymphoma patients often have long drawn out periods of total fatigue. The nutrients and energy your body needs to function normally are all drained from your body by cancer cells. Lymphoma also drains the immune system, which is another main source of your bodies energy. This is no ordinary fatigue. This is extreme fatigue that makes it impossible to do daily tasks.
- Papule Clusters- Skin irritation is a sign of lymphoma development. Cancer cells secrete chemical byproducts that lead to papules (acne-like lesions). If you find yourself itching and scratching for no real reason, and find strange lesions on your body, that might be a sign that lymphoma is developing.
- Breathlessness- When the lymph nodes become swollen, the respiratory system cannot function properly. Patients will have a severe cough, sharp chest pains, and difficulty breathing. Patients have reported being out of breath from sedentary activities such as browsing the web or reading. This is another sign that you want to visit a doctor.
Note: None of these symptoms guarantee that you have lymphoma. There are many explanations that may not be any cancer. However, it is important that you go to the doctor if you experience any symptoms to rule out any possible cancers and/or detect these cancers early. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.
Lymphoma can be debilitating and catches many people by surprise. Being aware of the warning signs can help you seek help before the lymphoma really takes hold. If you want more information on lymphoma and other medical ailments, be sure to check the rest of our website for studies, information, and articles.