24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Flavored E-Cigarettes May Make Asthma WorseLow Vitamin D Levels, Shorter Life?Health Tip: Controllable Stroke Risk FactorsDon't Let Fear of Cancer Keep You From Doctor VisitsScientists Discover New Way Fat Harms Your ArteriesOpioid Prescriptions for Eye Surgery Patients SurgeCases of Vaping-Linked Lung Illness Rise to 530 Across 38 States: CDCHealth Tip: Gaining WeightCan You Still Be Healthy If You're Overweight?Intense Gaming Can Trigger Irregular Heartbeat, Fainting in Some PlayersAll-in-One Pill Helps Protect HeartTiny Genetic Tweak May Stop Ebola Virus in Its TracksOpioid Epidemic Tied to Doubling of Dangerous Heart InfectionsWill Feeding Your Pets Raw Food Make You Sick?AHA News: Vitamin D Is Good for the Bones, But What About the Heart?Health Tip: Understanding Color BlindnessCould Profit Be a Factor in Kidney Transplant Decisions?Could Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Still Help Some People?Health Tip: Relieving Itchy SkinExperts' Guide to Trampoline SafetyHow to Keep Your Feet on a Sound, Pain-Free FootingMost Cyclists Suffering Head Injuries Not Wearing Helmets: StudyLinks Between Smog, 2nd Pregnancies and Preterm BirthHeartburn Drug Zantac May Contain Small Amounts of Known Carcinogen, FDA SaysCDC Revises Number of Vaping-Linked Lung Illnesses to 380 in 36 StatesKidney Transplants Safe When Donors Had Hepatitis CLung Cancer Screening Can Detect Other Smoking IllsIs Your State One of the 'Most Obese' in America?How to Keep Your Bones Strong and Prevent FracturesHeart Attack Can Be More Lethal If Symptoms Are More GradualHealth Tip: Understanding MononucleosisNew Strain of Strep Causing Cases of Scarlet FeverHow to Fight Hidden Causes of InflammationFDA Approves First Treatment for ILD With Systemic Sclerosis, SclerodermaOccasional Naps Do a Heart Good, Swiss Study FindsA 'Supercool' Breakthrough for Patients Awaiting Liver TransplantTreatment for Very-Preterm Infants May Lead to Antibiotic ResistanceWhy Weight Gain Often Comes With AgeNew Prosthetic Leg Can Feel Touch, Reduce 'Phantom Limb' PainThe Alexander Technique: What Could It Do for You?Drink Coffee, Avoid Gallstones?Dark Skin No Protection Against Sun's Harmful RaysSome People Vaccinated Against Mumps May Not Be Protected: StudyDiabetes Control Has Stalled Across U.S.Vaping-Linked Lung Illnesses Double, Vitamin E Acetate Leading Suspect'First Responders' on 9/11 Face Lingering Heart Woes, Study FindsHealth Officials Close in on Culprit in Vaping Lung Injury CasesGoing Vegetarian Good for Your Heart, But May Up Stroke RiskEven Small Improvements in Cholesterol, Blood Pressure Help Prevent Heart AttackHealth Tip: Signs of Gallstones
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics


Drug Duo May Be an Advance Against a Common Leukemia

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Jul 31st 2019

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, July 31, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- A two-drug combo helps patients with a common form of leukemia survive longer than the current standard of care, a new clinical trial finds.

The phase 3 trial of more than 500 U.S. patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) found that a combination of rituximab and ibrutinib extended patient survival.

Specifically, 89.4% of the patients who received the experimental drug combination did not have any progression of their leukemia about three years after treatment, compared with 72.9% of those who received the traditional chemotherapy combination.

As to overall survival, regardless of whether the disease had progressed or not, the trial found that three years after treatment, 98.8% of patients who received the two-drug combination were alive, compared with 91.5% of those who received the traditional treatment.

The research was led by Dr. Tait Shanafelt, professor of medicine at Stanford University, and will be published Aug. 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study received funding from Pharmacyclics LLC, which makes ibrutinib.

Shanafelt and his team believe the results could change how most people with CLL are treated.

"These results will fully usher the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia into a new era," Shanafelt said in a Stanford news release.

"We've found that this combination of targeted treatments is both more effective and less toxic than the previous standard of care for these patients," he added. "It seems likely that, in the future, most patients will be able to forgo chemotherapy altogether."

Patient Dan Rosenbaum, 57, was one of the participants randomly assigned to receive the dual drug treatment. In the news release, he said he felt an easing of symptoms very soon after the therapy began.

"I hadn't realized how fatigued I had become," Rosenbaum said. "I could barely play a single set of tennis, and I would be wiped out for days afterward. My lymph nodes were so swollen it was impossible to button the top button of my shirt collar. But within the first week of starting treatment, I noticed I had a little more spring in my step. After 10 days, there was a marked improvement in the size of my lymph glands. And after six weeks, my tumors were no longer detectable by physical exam."

The current standard treatment for CLL patients is an intravenous combination of three drugs -- fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and rituximab (FCR). Fludarabine and cyclophosphamide kill both healthy and cancerous cells by interfering with DNA replication, while rituximab targets immune system B cells that "run amok" in CLL, according to the researchers.

However, fludarabine and cyclophosphamide can cause significant side effects such as severe blood complications and life-threatening infections, the researchers said.

The new drug combination pairs rituximab with ibrutinib, which also specifically targets B cells.

"This is one of those situations we don't often have in oncology," Shanafelt explained. "The new treatment is both more effective and better tolerated. This represents a paradigm shift in how these patients should be treated. We can now relegate [traditional] chemotherapy to a fallback plan rather than a first-line course of action."

One expert in CLL care agreed that the findings might mark an advance.

"The major strength of this study is that it is a prospectively randomized comparison with the 'chemo-immunotherapy' combination FCR, in a large sample size," said Dr. Kanti Rai. He's a hematologist with the CLL Research and Treatment Program at Northwell Health Cancer Institute in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

The new study finds that the two-drug combo is now "superior" to the three-drug approach, Rai said. However, FCR might still work best in a subgroup of CLL patients whose cancer has certain genetic characteristics, he added.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on CLL.