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Cancer prognosis improved with 'maintenance therapy'

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International research has claimed that the prognosis for common lymph cancer patients can be hugely improved if it is treated as a manageable chronic disease.

The Phase III Prima trial studying 1,217 cases discovered the chances of sufferers staying relpase-free doubled if “maintenance therapy”, using targeted antibody drug rituximab, was carried out.

Researchers initially treated the follicular lymphoma patients with rituximab plus conventional chemotherapy. In the following two-year period, half were put under rest and observation while the rest continued with rituximab treatment.

Those who continued their treatment were only half as likely to display disease progression as those who were prescribed rest. Treatments for cancer are usually stopped when it goes into remission.

Commenting on the results, Dr Robert Marcus, consultant haematologist at King’s College Hospital, London, said: “These data could change both our practice and our perspective on what is, in the majority of patients, a condition that should be controllable with intermittent and relatively non-toxic therapy.”

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