Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at rituximab and high dose chemotherapy for follicular lymphoma that has come back or is proving hard to treat
Follicular NHL is a type of low grade non Hodgkin lymphoma. It is usually possible to control this type of lymphoma for a number of years, but it is difficult to cure. It is usually treated with chemotherapy to get it into
Doctors have been trying to improve the outlook for people with follicular lymphoma by using high dose chemotherapy. But there is still a risk that the disease will come back because there may still be lymphoma cells left in the body when the disease is in remission.
The aim of this trial was to see if treatment with rituximab before and after high dose therapy improved the outlook for follicular lymphoma by ridding the body of more lymphoma cells and keeping the disease in remission for longer.
Summary of results
The trial team found that having rituximab after high dose chemotherapy is safe and significantly increased the amount of time it took before follicular lymphoma started to come back.
- 69 people had rituximab before and after high dose therapy
- 72 people had rituximab before high dose therapy only
- 69 people had rituximab after high dose therapy only
- 70 people had high dose therapy only
Of the 280 recruited, the trial team were able to look at the results of 200 people.
After an average follow up of just under 8½ years, the researchers looked at how many people were alive and free of cancer. Of those free of cancer, they found that
- 48 out of every 100 people (48%) had rituximab before high dose therapy
- 42 out of every 100 people (42%) didn’t have rituximab before high dose therapy
- 54 out of every 100 people (54%) had rituximab after high dose therapy
- 37 out of every 100 people (37%) didn’t have rituximab after high dose therapy
They also found that having rituximab didn’t make a difference to the total number of people who were still alive.
The most common side effects reported were
The trial team concluded that having rituximab after high dose therapy was safe and did significantly increase the amount of time it took for follicular lymphoma to come back.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Ruth Pettengell
Professor A.H. Goldstone
European Foundation for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)