Healthy Living

Sharon Apel’s Story: How Radioimmunotherapy Works for Lymphoma

Radioimmunotherapy has since played a significant role in lymphoma treatment

In the year 2002, the FDA approved the first radioimmunotherapy drug, by the name of Zevalin (ibritumomab tiuxetan), to treat Non-Hodgkin’s B-cell lymphoma. Zevalin works by targeting cancer cells using CD20 antibodies that link to radioisotopes on the surface of malignant B-cells in patients with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The drug is used in instances where patients fail to respond to standard chemotherapy by instilling damage to targeted and neighboring cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, which involves administration over the course of 4-6 months, Zevalin can be administered in an outpatient setting within 8 days. “Zevalin represents a major advance in the treatment of certain non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, especially among patients who have become refractory to other treatment options,” said Thomas E. Witzig, a hematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Over the next few years, the potential of radioimmunotherapy would make significant strides in the world of cancer, especially among cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia.