Understanding the latest treatments

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a rare type of cancer. It’s typically considered incurable, but remission is possible. Thanks to the development of new treatments, people with MCL are living longer than ever before.

Take a moment to learn about some of the treatments that doctors are using to help improve the outlook of people with MCL.

Bortezomib (Velcade) is a proteasome inhibitor. It can help stop lymphoma cells from growing. It can also cause them to die.

In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved bortezomib for treating MCL that has come back or gotten worse after a previous treatment. In 2014, the FDA approved it as a first-line treatment.

That means your doctor might prescribe it during your initial treatment. They may also prescribe it if the cancer relapses.

Some research suggests that taking bortezomib might help delay relapse too. After going into remission, many people start maintenance therapy to help them stay in remission for longer.

Maintenance therapy usually involves injections of rituximab. A small phase II clinical trial found that it might be safe and effective to combine rituximab with bortezomib.

Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) and acalabrutinib (Calquence) are two types of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitors (BTK inhibitors). They can help shrink certain types of tumors.

In 2013, the FDA approved ibrutinib as a treatment for MCL that has come back or progressed after previous treatment. In 2017, it approved acalabrutinib for the same use.

Both drugs have possible side effects. Some research suggests that acalabrutinib might have fewer side effects, reports the National Cancer Institute. But there hasn’t been a direct head-to-head comparison of the two medications.

Multiple clinical trials are currently underway to learn if ibrutinib and acalabrutinib can be combined with other drugs as a first-line treatment for MCL.

Researchers are also working to develop other BTK inhibitors. For example, the FDA recently granted breakthrough therapy designation to the BTK inhibitor zanubrutinib. This designation helps accelerate the development and review process for drugs that have shown promise in early studies.

Lenalidomide (Revlimid) is an immunomodulatory drug. It can help your immune system attack lymphoma cells. It can also help prevent lymphoma cells from growing.

In 2013, the FDA approved lenalidomide for treating MCL that has come back or gotten worse after two prior treatments. If you have relapsed or refractory MCL, your doctor might prescribe lenalidomide to treat it.

Recent research suggests that lenalidomide might also provide an alternative to chemotherapy as a first-line treatment.

A recent phase II clinical trial found that a combination of lenalidomide and rituximab helped older adults achieve and maintain remission from MCL. Among 36 participants who received this treatment, 90 percent were still living after three years. In 80 percent of participants, the cancer hadn’t progressed.

Several other clinical trials are underway to learn if lenalidomide can be safely and effectively combined with other medications. This includes chemotherapy drugs.

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a novel approach to treating lymphoma and other types of blood cancer.

In this therapy, scientists remove a sample of T cells from your body. T cells are a type of white blood cell that play an important role in your immune system. The scientists genetically modify the T cells in a lab, adding a receptor that helps them find and kill cancer. After modifying the cells, they infuse them back into your body.

The FDA hasn’t yet approved this therapy for treating MCL. Multiple clinical trials are underway to study its potential benefits and risks for people with MCL.

These are just a few of the treatments that have been developed for MCL. Many clinical trials are underway to study these treatments, as well as other experimental treatments for the disease. In addition to developing new medications and biological therapies, researchers are also testing strategies to safely and effectively combine existing treatments.

In some cases, experimental treatments might help you achieve and maintain remission from MCL. But there are also risks to trying experimental therapies and taking part in clinical trials. Your doctor can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of a clinical trial.

To learn more about clinical trials in your area, visit ClinicalTrials.gov.

Many studies are underway to develop new treatments for MCL, as well as new strategies to improve existing treatments. Your doctor’s recommended treatment plan will depend on your current condition, as well as your history of previous treatments.