Dr. Tycel Phillips reviews the main treatment goals for follicular lymphoma. Dr. Phillips provides insight on treatment decisions based on the patient’s staging and symptoms.
Dr. Tycel Jovelle Phillips is a Medical Oncologist in the Hematology Clinic at The University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center. Learn more about Dr. Phillips, here.
How about we begin with treatment goals? What does this mean exactly and what are the goals of treatment for follicular lymphoma?
So, for the vast majority of patients, follicular lymphoma unfortunately to date is not curable. So, for those patients the goal of treatment when we initiate treatment is to alleviate any symptoms that may be caused by the lymphoma.
So, the patient has fevers, they have night sweats, or there’s some sort of organ damage from the cancer, our goal of treatment is to reverse that and put the cancer into what we call a remission. Remission basically means that from the test that we have currently, we cannot find any evidence of the cancer. That does not mean that you’re cured from the cancer. Patients with earlier stages – so, if you have a patient with stage one or a localized stage two, we approach that with a little bit of a different treatment mindset.
So, if we can catch it early enough, which is very hard given because of the cancer. So, these are really incidentally found, and in some cases, by luck. We can potentially cure follicular lymphoma in these patients. But that’s more of a curative intent with radiation and not systemic therapy. With the advent of PET scans, which have made it a little bit easier to find all the hidden areas of where the follicular lymphoma may hide out, concurrently with a bone marrow biopsy, if a patient is truly stage one, we will initiate therapy with a curative intent.
Whereas, again, with the other patients, our goal is just to control the symptoms and put you into remission.