Hello from New Orleans!
New Orleans is the site of this year's annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, the world's largest professional society composed of over 15,000 members and is dedicated to the understanding of hematologic conditions and diseases and to development of treatment of these disorders.
The society's goal is best state by it'smission statement "The American Society of Hematology (ASH) is the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatments of blood disorders. The mission of the Society is to further the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood, bone marrow, and the immunologic, hemostatic and vascular systems, by promoting research, clinical care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology." I am very pleased to be a member of this organization. If interested, more information can be found on their website hematology.org.
Today I attended many interesting meetings and heard discussion on a variety of topics that are directly applicable to patients with hematologic conditions in North Central Washington. Although the "meaty" scientific presentation are yet to come, here is a taste of the discussions from today:
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Many molecular characteristics for patient with this form of leukemia are being defined to help us better know who needs treatment with chemotherapy. Since some patients may have this disease for years without everdeveloping any symptoms or complications, it is important we pick out the patients for chemotherapy that really need it. Disease characteristics that would suggest the patient needs to be treated now instead of later include ZAP 70+, non-mutated IgG Variable heavy chain, Del of 11q or 17p on chromosome analysis. Although it may be difficult to understand some of these terms, be assured that we will take all these important characteristics into consideration when we develop a treatment plan for your leukemia.
Olfamtumab was just approved by the FDA for treatment of patients with CLL resistant to other forms of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. It is an antibody targeted to CLL cells for very directed leukemia cell kill. We now have the opportunity to use this agent in Wenatchee and our satellite clinics in Omak and Moses Lake.
Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL)
One of the most practice changing presentations that may come from this meeting will be presented at the scientific oral session on Monday afternoon in regards to the treatment of follicular NHL. Preliminary discussion is that the new drug Bendamustine will supplant the traditional chemotherapy of CHOP when given with Rituxan as the best new First-line therapy for patients with follicular NHL
Other information discussed was that prolonged follow-up in patients who have received rituximab for 2 years after their treatment for follicular NHL continue to show that it keeps the lymphoma from coming back for longer.
Diffuse Large B-Cell NHL
For this group of patients with aggressive NHL a few old issues were discussed with more clarification. There is no benefit continuing rituximab for 2 years as is seen in patients with follicular NHL as discussed above. Radiation therapy to large areas of lymphoma after chemotherapy does not add to patient's benefit after chemotherapy. There is a better defined sub-group called Germinal Center Subtype that does better with chemotherapy than other sub-types.
I hope this information is helpful to those back home who are dealing with these conditions. I know we are continuing to make more and more progress in understanding, and thereby, treating these conditions.
Three more days of meetings, more to come!