DLBCL Care Partner Shared Decision-Making Planner

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DLBCL Shared Decision-Making Planner

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DLBCL Patient Shared Decision-Making Planner

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DLBCL Treatment Decision Tree

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The Pro-Active DLBCL Patient Toolkit 2.0 Resource Guide

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Why Should DLBCL Patients Engage in Their Care?

Why Should DLBCL Patients Engage in Their Care? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

DLBCL expert Dr. Jane Winter explains the benefits of being an engaged and empowered patient and shares key questions for patients to ask their doctors.

Dr. Jane Winter is a hematologist and medical oncologist at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University. More information on Dr. Winter here.

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What Is the Patient’s Role in Their DLBCL Care

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Should DLBCL Patients Consider a Second Opinion?


Transcript:

Laura Beth:

Dr. Winter, why do you think it’s important for patients to be empowered in their DLBCL care?  

Dr. Winter:

You know, a patient who is, I like the word “engaged” as well as “empowered.” I think it’s important for patients to be empowered or engaged because medicine is very complicated and very fragmented these days.  

Now, it’s so difficult to be a patient and to be sick and not be able to really take control. So, patients need to be empowered and they need partners, advocates. It’s a very sad comment on our healthcare system, but to be sure that things don’t slip through the cracks, we, the providers, the hematologist, our job is tough, but we need a patient to partner with us.  

So, for example, if you’re a patient with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma as your diagnosis, make sure to ask, “Was there a result for the FISH?” You need to make sure that doesn’t slip through the cracks. Or, if you are going for a second opinion or going to another medical center, make sure you have your records. I really wish that every patient who had a scan of one kind or another as they walked out the door got a copy of that scan, a disc. Now, that would make life so much simpler. But, make sure that you keep your own records. It’s hard and hopefully, every sick individual has a family member or a friend, someone who’s going to help them with this because this is very tough.  

But, ask questions. “Are there clinical trials I might be eligible for? Are there alternatives to the therapy you’re recommending?” These are all important questions to ask. Don’t be afraid to say, “With this treatment, what is the likelihood that my disease is going to come under control and be cured?” I think you need to know that. And, “Is there a difference between this treatment and that treatment?” Do we know? Oftentimes, we don’t have the answer for the newer treatments, but we’re hopeful.  

I just want to underscore the existence of a growing number of clinical trials that patients need to consider and think about. It’s hard at the time of the new diagnosis to be struck with not only the emotional impact of a new diagnosis and so on and not feel well and so on, but just ask the question. “Are there clinical trials I might consider?” So, that’s important, and also have optimism because the vast majority of patients, we do amazing, amazing things, and that’s why it’s so much fun to be a hematologist right now is that we have so many new and exciting treatments. And what’s more exciting than to make someone healthy again?  

So, these are exciting times. 

Treating Relapsed/Refractory DLBCL

Treating Relapsed/Refractory DLBCL from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What are the options for DLBCL patients who relapse? Dr. Jane Winter shares treatment options for relapsed/refractory DLBCL and what is available for patients who have coexisting conditions or health concerns.

Dr. Jane Winter is a hematologist and medical oncologist at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University. More information on Dr. Winter here.

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Transcript:

Laura Beth:

Dr. Winter, if a DLBCL patient doesn’t respond to treatment or relapses, what happens next? Are there additional treatment options available?  

Dr. Winter:

Absolutely, but we have some very new treatments and some new data that’s just been within the last year. So, I had mentioned earlier with regard to follicular lymphoma this CAR T-cell therapy. So, CAR T-cell therapy is now approved for certain patients who relapse. So historically, in the past, patients who were young enough and robust, healthy enough to consider what we call an autologous stem cell transplant, so, high doses of chemotherapy with stem cell rescue was the standard of care for many years. But many patients would not be eligible for that kind of therapy, first, because they were too old or they had too many medical problems, what we call comorbidities.  

But also, because in order to have a good outcome with this kind of treatment, we need to first get the disease into remission, and that can prove challenging. So, for many years, though, what we call autologous stem cell transplant was the standard of care. But a disease that is most common in people in their mid-60s and above, this was not an option for many patients, but also, many patients just never became eligible because their disease was too difficult to control. And so, in recent times, over the past six years or more, a new therapy called CAR T-cell therapy has emerged.  

This harnesses the patient’s own T cells. The T cells are collected from the blood stream, and then they are genetically engineered so that they target the marker on the lymphoma cells. It takes about three weeks or so to go through the process of altering these cells and creating these CARs, and then re-infusing them back into the patient now targeting the patient’s lymphoma. And, this is a therapy that’s incredibly promising.  

It was approved a while ago for patients in the third line, meaning if your disease came back after your first treatment, let’s say, R-CHOP, and then you receive second line treatment, but that treatment didn’t really work, you were a candidate for CAR T-cell therapy. And about 35 to 40 percent of patients would do very well with that therapy. It’s not a hundred percent, but still, it was a very good option for individuals. Now, we have clinical trials comparing patients who relapse. So, at the time the first relapse, if that relapse occurs within a year or the patient progresses while on initial treatment, CAR T-cell therapy has been shown to be better than the old standard of care, which was the second line of treatment in the stem cell transplant.  

So, we now have this very promising new strategy for patients as well as for a subset of patients who are not eligible to go on to conventional autologous stem cell transplant because they’re too old or they’ve got a heart disease or some other comorbidity that makes them not a candidate for a standard stem cell transplant. So, this is very exciting and is approved for patients with relapsed disease, or refractory disease, or disease that progresses during initial treatment, or recurs within a year as well as this group of patients who are either too old or too sick to have an autologous stem cell transplant.  

But, there are many new iterations, new variations on this theme that are under investigation right now. So, there are lots of clinical trials to consider for a patient with relapsed disease or refractory disease because we have new versions of CAR T-cell therapy that are under investigation as well as a whole list of new agents, targeted agents and what we call bite antibodies and so on.  

So, things are very promising and there’s a tremendous amount of research going on right now, much of it translating into improved responses and survival for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. 

Understanding High-Risk DLBCL

Understanding High-Risk DLBCL from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What is high-risk diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) exactly? Dr. Jane Winter explains progression of the disease, DLBCL subgroups, and treatment approaches that may bring high-risk DLBCL under control.

Dr. Jane Winter is a hematologist and medical oncologist at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University. More information on Dr. Winter here.

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Understanding Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) and Its Subtypes

Understanding Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) and Its Subtypes

What Are the Subtypes of DLBCL?

What Is Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL)?


Transcript:

Laura Beth:

Dr. Winter, what is high-risk DLBCL?   

Dr. Winter:

There are certain aggressive lymphomas that are more high-grade. And in recent years, we’ve identified a subset that has genetic changes in certain genes that lead to a very aggressive type of lymphoma that grows rapidly and is more difficult to cure with standard therapy. And what’s most important about identifying that subset is that it requires that at least most of our evidence is that the standard strategy that I just spoke about briefly in terms of what we use for transformed follicular lymphoma, the standard therapy we use for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma called R-CHOP where the “R” is standing for rituximab. 

Again, that antibody that targets a particular marker on the lymphoma cells, CD20 immunotherapy plus chemotherapy, CHOP chemotherapy which has been around for probably 50 years, this very standard backbone of treatment for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is not sufficient. We don’t have head-to-head randomized phase three trials showing definitely that the more aggressive strategy is so much better, but most of the evidence is that standard R-CHOP just doesn’t do as well in curing these highly aggressive, and what we call high grade or double hit lymphomas.  

These are lymphomas that have these genetic changes, rearrangements in particular genes MYC and BCL2, and I like to think of it as MYC takes the brakes off of growth. So, it’s sort of the rapidly growing disease, and the BCL2 prevents the cells from dying. So, between that, you have a rapidly growing lymphoma that doesn’t stop. And so, that’s a special subgroup of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. There are some other subcategories.  

Primary mediastinal, which tends to be a type of aggressive lymphoma that presents generally as a big mediastinal mass in the middle of the chest, usually younger patients, more often women than men, but still many, many men as well. So, high-risk generally for me means that it has a double hit. There’s MYC, M-Y-C, and BCL2 genetic changes. There are some other types, but that’s basically what I think of in terms of high-risk. When we think of garden-variety diffuse large B-cell lymphomas, there are some ways of categorizing patients into four different subcategories in terms of “risk.”   

The first of these was what we call the international prognostic index that was developed in the 70s based on patients who were enrolled on clinical trials. In those days, the diagnoses were probably not exactly what they are today in terms of how we categorize patients, but that is a set of clinical features that there’s a little app online and you can calculate whether a patient is high-risk, intermediate, low, low-intermediate risk. In this system remains fairly helpful, predictive. But, we have refined it significantly in modern times. 

And I have to say, not to toot my own horn, but one of my fellows, Dr. Zhao and I, a number of years ago using a database from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and patients who all treated with modern therapy and were diagnosed with modern techniques, we used that data to develop a new, improved international prognostic index. And this helps us better discriminate the four different categories, and it places greater weight on patient age, which is an important predictor, as well as the particular blood test result, the LDH, which is an enzyme that’s helpful in aggressive lymphomas and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.  

And, this particular, what we call the NCCN-IPI, you can just put your age and LDH level and so on into this app and you just find it online, NCCN–IPI, and it will put patients into four different subgroups. And this predict outcomes and survival over a five-year period for these patients. It’s not hard and fast, like anything else, within every category. So, if you look at every patient in the low-risk group by the NCCN–IPI, there still are a few patients who will fail therapy, but the majority of patients will do very well.  

And, if you happen to be someone who is 80 years old with a high LDH and you fall into the high-risk patient group, the outcomes are not going to be as good, but that doesn’t mean every patient in that category fails treatment. So, there’s still gonna be some good outcomes. So, it’s helpful. These are guides, and they do help to identify patients who are, what we call, high-risk or high intermediate risk. So, this is another way of looking at predicting outcome apart from looking at whether a patient is what we call a “double hit” lymphoma. So, the double hit, I just want to make one point is that when a pathologist makes a diagnosis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, it is absolutely critical that that biopsy, the pathology be sent for a procedure called FISH.  

That stands for fluorescent in situ hybridization, and it’s a technique the pathologist can use, or special labs will use, to pull out, to identify those patients who have this very high-risk subset of lymphoma called the double hit with both a MYC and a BCL2 rearrangement. Whether a MYC and a BCL6 rearrangement falls into this same risk group, we’re deemphasizing that and really, it’s the double MYC and BLC2 group that’s the highest risk.  

How to Make an Informed DLBCL Treatment Decision

How to Make an Informed DLBCL Treatment Decision from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What factors help guide a diffuse large b-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) treatment decision? This animated video reviews important decision-making considerations and provides important steps for engaging in your DLBCL care.

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Transcript:

Carol: 

Hi, I’m Carol. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with a blood cancer known as DLBCL, which is short for diffuse large b-cell lymphoma.  

This is Dr. Williams, my hematologist. A hematologist is a doctor who specializes in the care and treatment of people with blood cancer. 

Dr. Williams, can you tell us more about DLBCL? 

Dr. Williams: 

Sure. DLBCL is the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It may be isolated to the lymph nodes, or it may occur OUTSIDE of the lymphatic system in areas like the thyroid, skin, breast, bone, testes, gastrointestinal tract, or even other organs in the body. 

Carol: 

After I was diagnosed, Dr. Williams informed me that I would need to start treatment immediately. 

Dr. Williams: 

That’s right, Carol. DLBCL is considered aggressive and fast-growing, so treatment usually starts right away to control the disease and any symptoms it causes. 

Carol: 

When deciding on a therapy, my husband and I discussed the goals of treatment with Dr. Williams – we talked about the potential outcome for each approach and how options may impact my lifestyle. 

Dr. Williams, 

Exactly—we wanted to make sure that Carol could continue to live her life to the fullest while using the most effective approach to treat her disease.  

We also considered Carol’s: 

  • Age and overall health. 
  • The location and stage of her DLBCL at the time of treatment. 
  • Her lab test results, including molecular testing results. 
  • And the potential side effects of each option. 

Then we discussed Carol’s options if she didn’t respond to initial therapy or if she experienced a relapse.  

Carol:  

Along with Dr. Williams and the other members of my healthcare team, my husband Tony was another partner in my care. He helped me research DLBCL so I could understand more about my disease, which made me feel confident in discussions with my team.  

We also made list of questions together before my appointments so I wouldn’t forget anything, and Tony took notes during my visits.  His notes were helpful to us when talking about the appointment later and reviewing what our next steps may be. 

Dr. Williams: 

That’s great advice, Carol. It’s so important that patients feel empowered to ask questions and speak up. If you don’t feel comfortable with your providers or your treatment plan—or if you just want confirmation that you have explored all your options–consider seeking a second opinion or a consultation with a DLBCL specialist. 

Elena: 

Yes—and Dr. Williams always made me feel like a partner in my care– making conversations and decisions much easier for me. 

Dr. Williams: 

Exactly–the patient should always be at the center of care.  

Now, what steps can YOU take to be more engaged? 

  • Start by educating yourself about DLBCL. Ask your team for recommendations for credible sources of information. 
  • Then, consider a second opinion or a consult with a DLBCL specialist immediately following your diagnosis. 
  • Make a list of questions prior to your appointments and bring a friend or family member along to visits, if you can. They can help you absorb the information and take notes. 
  • Understand and articulate the goals of your DLBCL treatment plan and ask if a clinical trial may be right for you. 
  • Learn about your options and discuss the pros and cons of each approach with your doctor. 
  • Finally, speak up and share your questions and concerns. YOU are your own best advocate. 

Carol: 

That’s great advice, Dr. Williams. To learn more about DLBCL, visit powerfulpatients.org/DLBCL. 

Dr. Williams: 

Thanks for joining us! 

What Do Patients Need to Know About DLBCL and COVID Vaccines?

What Do Patients Need to Know About DLBCL and COVID Vaccines? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

DLBCL treatment can lower a patient’s immunity. Dr. Kami Maddocks explains current options to help patients protect themselves from COVID and other viruses.

Dr. Kami Maddocks is a hematologist who specializes in treating patients with B-cell malignancies at the The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James. Learn more about Dr. Maddocks.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Do you recommend that patients continue getting vaccines? For COVID, for flu?  

Dr. Maddocks:

Yes. So, particularly, when you look at lymphomas, this is a cancer of the immune system. The cancer can make your immune system compromise the treatment. While you’re getting treated makes your immune system compromised. And even for a period after treatment, your immune system can be compromised. So, it’s important to protect yourselves against infection. Sometimes the efficacy of vaccines in the middle of treatment might not be as good as not being on treatment.  

But that said, there’s no data that the vaccines are harmful. You do have to be careful about live vaccines when you’re under treatment, and you should ask your doctor about not the typical vaccines, of course. But I think that it’s very important to take every step that patients can, to try to prevent themselves from battling something in addition to them already undergoing treatments, their body’s already going through a lot.  

And so, anything that we can do or they can do to help prevent them from dealing with more than they already are, I think is important.  

A DLBCL Expert Debunks Common Patient Misconceptions

A DLBCL Expert Debunks Common Patient Misconceptions from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Dr. Kami Maddocks responds to common diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patient questions and misconceptions. Dr. Maddocks encourages patients to feel empowered in their care so they can partner with their healthcare team. 

Dr. Kami Maddocks is a hematologist who specializes in treating patients with B-cell malignancies at the The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James. Learn more about Dr. Maddocks.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

It’s not always easy for patients to speak up. So, I’d like to debunk some common misconceptions that patients have, that may be holding them back. First one is, “I’m bothering my doctor with all my questions.” Is that true?  

Dr. Maddocks:

That is not true at all. So, the best thing is an informed patient. So, I want to answer all their questions. “What is the disease or diagnosis?” “What are the treatment options?” “What do we know now?” “What are we learning?” I need to know what’s going on. I always tell my patients that I can’t help them with what I don’t know. So, if somebody shows up, they get once cycle of treatment and they show up for a second cycle and they’ve had all these problems and never called or notified me, first of all, we weren’t able to help them. There’s a lot of things we can do to help them and if we don’t know what’s going on, we can’t help.  

And second, that might impact that second treatment, whereas knowing and knowing that sooner, we can plan to make changes.  

Katherine:

Yeah. That’s really good advice. Here’s another one. “My doctor’s feelings will get hurt if I get a second opinion.”  

Dr. Maddocks:

Not at all. So, I always encourage patients that they should get a second opinion, third opinion, whatever they need. Number one, I think it’s important that a patient feels comfortable with their diagnosis and their treatment plan, because I really think that things go better if they understand that and they’re comfortable. If they’re always doubting what’s going on, it’s really hard to develop that trusting relationship. And I think it’s very important that a patient has a trusting relationship with their care team.  

I think most of the time, when you get a second opinion, you’re probably going to hear or get the same advice. And so, that helps a patient to feel comfortable. Sometimes, there may be clinical trials out there that your doctor didn’t know about, that are options, and a doctor’s always going to be happy if there’s something out there available, that might make the patient outcome better, that they didn’t know about.   

And lastly, I would say there are a lot of doctors who treat all types of cancer, and there are some doctors that specialize in certain types of cancer. And so, if you were seeing a doctor who treats multiple different kinds, but want to see a doctor who specializes in a particular kind, they may be aware of a recent trial or a recent development that your doctor doesn’t know. Not because there’s anything wrong with that doctor, it’s just that there is so much data to keep up with these days, in cancer, that a specialist might be able to provide a point of view that somebody else doesn’t know.  

Katherine:

Yeah. Another question or comment is, “There isn’t anything that could be done about my symptoms or treatment side effects. So, why should I even say anything?”  

Dr. Maddocks:

Yeah. That’s a great question but the thing is, a lot of times there are things. So, the one thing is, some of the treatments we use for some of our cancers, including lymphoma, have been around for a really long time. But some of the things that have changed, are our supportive care or our ability to treat patient side effects. So, I think that it’s always important that patients let us know if they’re having side effects because maybe nausea – so, we give medication to prevent that.  

Usually, I send patients home with two different types of nausea medication. But if that’s not helping, I have more than two in my toolbox, I just don’t know to prescribe them if the typical things aren’t helping. So, a lot of times, there are things that we can do. Sometimes you have to tweak the dosing of the chemo, but really, the only way you can help with symptom management is if you know somebody’s having symptoms.  

Katherine:

Right. So, when somebody starts to have side effects from the treatment, should they contact their care team right away?  

Dr. Maddocks:

Yes. They should contact their care team right away. There are certain side effects, like having a fever during chemo, where they really need to go to the emergency room to be evaluated, to make sure it’s nothing. Because an infection can be very serious when you’re getting chemotherapy. Other side effects that are less emergent but, yes. Most of the time there’s a patient number that patients can call, where they can seek, like a nurse help line, where they can seek assistance, and that call can be escalated depending on the symptoms and what needs to be helped.  

But I think, again, it’s important that we know what’s going on so we can help patients. And then, if something needs to be further investigated – because occasionally there will be something that’ll make us think, “Oh, we really need to evaluate this patient because what if it’s more than what it seems?”   

Katherine:

Right. Are there any other misconceptions that you hear about from patients?  

Dr. Maddocks:

I think, just in general, thinking about the patient taking care of themselves. So, a lot of times there can be resources that patients have questions on. Things like exercise. Things like nutrition. Things in the environment that they can be exposed to. Just different things. I think it’s always important that you ask your care team if there’s any question, because they’re going to best be able to tell you versus just assuming something.  

There’s a lot of good information that patients can get from educational sites. There’s a lot of good information on the internet but there’s also a lot of bad information, or inaccurate information on the internet. So, I think it’s great for patients to use resources and educate themselves but I think that it’s always good to confirm with your care team. Myths versus facts.  

What You Should Know About DLBCL Treatment Side Effects

What You Should Know About DLBCL Treatment Side Effects from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Once a patient begins diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) treatment, what side effects could they experience? Dr. Kami Maddocks, reviews potential side effects and how they may be managed.

Dr. Kami Maddocks is a hematologist who specializes in treating patients with B-cell malignancies at the The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James. Learn more about Dr. Maddocks.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

What are the side effects that patients can expect with these treatments?  

Dr. Maddocks:

So, when they get the treatment, on the day they get it, there can be an infusion reaction to the rituximab or antibody therapies. So, the first treatment, that treatment is given very slowly and titrated up. If patients have a reaction, we stop it, treat the reaction, and then they’re able to continue therapy but again, that first day, it can take several hours for that one antibody to get in. And then, later, therapies are given at a more rapid pace.   

So, about 70 percent of people who react, it can be really almost anything. Some people get flushing, some people will get a fever, some people –have shortness of breath or their heart rate will go up. 

Katherine:

Okay. All right. Any other side effects? 

Dr. Maddocks:

Yeah. So then chemotherapy is meant to kill cells during the cell cycle. So, cancer cells divide more rapidly, chemotherapy is targeting them, but it also effects good cells in the body, specifically those that divide at a more rapid pace. The biggest risk of chemotherapy is infection.  

So, it effects the good white blood cells that fight infections. It can affect your red cells that carry your iron, gives you your energy. Or your platelets which help you to clot or not bleed when you get caught. So, infection is the biggest risk of chemotherapy. So, usually, with this regimen, that infectious risk is highest within the second week of treatment, that treatment is given every three weeks.  

So, we tell patients they should buy a thermometer, check their temperature, they have to notify their doctor or go to the ER if they have a fever. Besides infection, there’s a small percentage of patients who might need a transfusion. GI toxicity. So, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, constipation, all of which we have good treatments for. So, we give medication before chemo to try to prevent people from getting sick and then give them medicine to go home with, if they have any nausea. We can alter those medications as time goes on, if they’re having any problems. So, we just need to know about it. Most patients will lose their hair with this regimen.  

It can affect people’s tastes, it can make their skin more sensitive to the sun, and then, less common but potential side effects are it can cause damage to the nerves. Or something we call neuropathy, which most often patients will start with getting numbness or tingling in their fingers and toes, and we can dose adjust if that’s causing some problems.  

And then, there’s a risk to the heart with one of the drugs. So, the heart should pump like this. The heart pump function can go down. So, we always check a patient’s heart pump function before they get their chemo, to make sure that they’re not at higher risk for that to happen.  

Katherine:

So, all of these approaches are used in initial treatment?  

Dr. Maddocks:

Mm-hmm. 

Katherine:

Okay. 

Emerging DLBCL Treatments That Patients Should Know About

Emerging DLBCL Treatments That Patients Should Know About from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Are there new diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) treatment options? Dr. Kami Maddocks reviews developing research and approaches and what these advances could mean for patients.

Dr. Kami Maddocks is a hematologist who specializes in treating patients with B-cell malignancies at the The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James. Learn more about Dr. Maddocks.

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A DLBCL Expert Debunks Common Patient Misconceptions


Transcript:

Katherine:

Have there been any recent developments in how DLBCL is treated?  

Dr. Maddocks:

There had been recent developments. So, the CAR T-cell therapy, there is now three approved options for patients. And so, even patients who maybe are older and not considered candidates for a stem cell transplant because of other medical factors, might be able to get the CAR T-cell therapy. This is now, again, approved in the second line. There are a couple antibody drug conjugates, polatuzumab and loncastuximab, they target proteins called CD-79 and CD-19.  

And the polatuzumab’s the one that probably is going to be available for part of the front-line treatment in the future. There’s the antibody tafasitamab and lenalidomide. These are all approved therapies in the relapse setting. There are also therapies that are being studied and showing promising activity, which we think are probably likely to be approved in the future. There’s something particularly called bi-specific antibodies.  

So, this targets a protein on the tumor cell but also a protein on the T cell. So, remember I said the T cells aren’t functioning. So, this targets the protein on the lymphoma cell but then targets a protein on the T cell to engage it to attack the lymphoma cell. 

Katherine:

Right. Combination approaches?   

Dr. Maddocks:

Yeah. So, there are a number of combination approaches under study a lot of the therapies that I mentioned, like the bi-specific antibodies, the antibody drug conjugates. These are all therapies that – they have side effects – I hate to say they’re well-tolerated – they have side effects but their side effects are such that they can be combined with other agents, that have different toxicities that are combined with each other. And so, there’s a lot of ongoing trials looking at combining these. There’re also oral targeted therapies that target proteins that are known to help the lymphoma cells survive and these are modulator therapies, BTK inhibitors, other inhibitors, that are being evaluated and used in combinations.  

Katherine:

Thanks, Dr. Maddocks. That’s really helpful information. 

Is My DLBCL Treatment Working? What Happens If It Doesn’t Work?

Is My DLBCL Treatment Working? What Happens If It Doesn’t Work? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) expert Dr. Kami Maddocks describes how a treatment’s effectiveness is evaluated and reviews the options available for refractory patients.

Dr. Kami Maddocks is a hematologist who specializes in treating patients with B-cell malignancies at the The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James. Learn more about Dr. Maddocks.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

So, how do you know if a treatment is working?  

Dr. Maddocks:

So, as far as evaluating treatment, you get a scan before you start treatments, so we know where all the lymphoma is at. And then, typically, you get some sort of scan in the middle of treatment, and then after, you complete your six cycles of treatment. Or for early stages, sometimes patients will get less than six cycles. So, we get scans to make sure it’s working. So, you can tell by those things, how much has gone, hopefully all of it has gone by the end. Occasionally, patients that had a lot of symptoms to start with, their symptoms will go away, and then they’ll start coming back.  

This is less common, because the majority of patients do respond to chemotherapy. It’s less common to get patients who are what is called refractory, meaning they don’t get any response to therapy. So, occasionally they’ll note symptoms but a lot of times, we’ll see something on that mid-therapy or end of therapy scan, if it’s not going to make it all go away.  

Katherine:

So, if a treatment doesn’t work, what happens then?  

Dr. Maddocks:

If treatment doesn’t work, it depends a little bit – and now it depends a little bit on the timing of that treatment not working. So, it used to be that patients who were eligible for treatment, no matter if it didn’t work right away or if it put them into what we call a remission, so there’s no evidence of disease and then it relapsed, they would have the option of further chemotherapy and then an autologous stem cell transplant. So, a bone marrow transplant where they donate their own cells.  

If they were in a good enough health or if they were not – to do that, you have to donate your own bone marrow cells and as we age, we make less bone marrow cells. So, once you reach a certain age, your body can’t produce enough cells to donate to a transplant. In those patients, we offer them less aggressive chemo options, which were not known to be curable but could put them into remission again, for a while. More recently, there has been some that chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy that I mentioned where you actually donate your own T cells. So that’s –. And your lymphoma is of your B cells.  

Your T cells are in another immune cell that should recognize that lymphoma is bad and attack it, and they’re not functioning properly. So, you donate your own T cells, and they’re sent off and reengineered to target a protein on the tumor. Then, you get those cells back, and they’re meant to target the lymphoma and kill the lymphoma cells.  

So, that is now an approved therapy for patients who don’t achieve the remission – so, who’s first chemo doesn’t work or if they relapse within a year of completing chemo. So, that’s a possibility. The chemo and transplants a possibility. Or there’s other approved therapies now, that can be given as second options or third or later options, which have been shown to keep patients in remission for a while.  

Katherine:

Dr. Maddocks, you touched up on this a moment ago, but what are the approaches if a patient relapses? What do you do?   

Dr. Maddocks:

So, you would rework them up if they relapsed. Similar to that, if they relapse within a year and they have access to the CAR-T and they’re healthy for that, then that’ll be an option. The second type of chemotherapy in the transplant. So, you can’t just go straight to a transplant. You have to get a different type of chemotherapy to try to get the disease under control again, before you would go to a transplant.  

Or there’s a number of other targeted therapies that are approved. So, there’s other – I talked about rituximab (Rituxan) is given in the first line, that targets a CD-20 protein, there’s an antibody that targets a CD-19 protein that’s given out in relapse. There’s another antibody drug – there’s actually two antibody drug conjugates. So, an antibody that targets the protein on the cells that are attached to a chemo, that’s given. Or there’s different chemotherapy and then even some oral therapies.  

Katherine:

Okay. So, there’s a lot of different options available for people.  

Dr. Maddocks:

Correct. And there’s always clinical trials. So, there’s always the option to find something where we’re studying some of these newer therapies. They’re therapies in combination.  

Understanding DLBCL Treatment Classes

Understanding DLBCL Treatment Classes from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Dr. Kami Maddocks reviews diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) treatment approaches, including options for patients who are considered high-risk or who have relapsed. Dr. Maddocks goes on to review which factors are considered when selecting a therapy and the potential for curative treatment.

Dr. Kami Maddocks is a hematologist who specializes in treating patients with B-cell malignancies at the The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James. Learn more about Dr. Maddocks.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Let’s turn to treatment options. Is a person with DLBCL treated right away?  

Dr. Maddocks:

They’re treated pretty quickly after the diagnosis. So, typically, when somebody has a diagnosis, they undergo a number of different tests, including lab work, imaging work, sometimes for their biopsies.  

So, that information is gathered over days to sometimes a few weeks process. Then, when you have all that information, you go over the results, go over the treatment at that time. So, it’s typically treated not within, usually, a day of diagnosis but it’s not something that you spend weeks or months before treating.  

Katherine:

Yeah. What are the different types of treatments available?  

Dr. Maddocks:

So, the diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is treated with chemotherapy and immunotherapy. So, a combination of an immune antibody therapy and chemotherapy. There is a role in some cases for radiation, but never just radiation alone and never just surgery alone. So, there’s always what we call a systemic treatment so, a treatment that goes everywhere. Because this is considered a blood cancer, it’s a cancer of those cells, it can really spread anywhere.  

And so, just cutting it out with surgery or just radiating the area doesn’t treat everything, even if you can’t identify it.  

Katherine:

Can you get specific about some of the treatment classes?   

Dr. Maddocks:

Yeah. So, the most common treatment for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is a chemo immunotherapy called R-CHOP. So, this is three chemotherapies and antibody therapy that’s direct called rituximab (Rituxan) that’s directed at a protein on the lymphoma cells. And then, a steroid called prednisone, given with the chemo and then for a few days after. There was a study that recently showed an improvement with switching one of those drugs with another immunotherapy that’s an antibody conjugated to a chemo drug. But that’s not yet been approved. There are clinical trials available. So, looking at these treatments that might be new or combining therapies with this standard treatment.  

And then, very occasionally, there are certain features of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. There are particular few different subtypes that are classified a little bit differently, that are treated within an infusional therapy called Dose Adjusted R-EPOCH.  

Katherine:

What about stem cell therapy? Is that used?  

Dr. Maddock:

Stem cell therapy is used in the relapse setting. So, if a patient doesn’t go into a remission or if they relapse after achieving a remission with their chemotherapy, then stem cell transplant is an option. So, there are actually two different types of stem cell transplant. One from yourself and one from somebody else. In lymphoma, we typically do one from yourself, where you donate your own cell before. But we don’t use that as part of the initial treatment.   

Katherine:

So, if somebody is high risk, Dr. Maddocks, is the approach different for them? 

Dr. Maddocks:

So, it depends. We define high risk in different ways. So, there’s a specific type of lymphoma called double hit lymphoma, where there’s a few chromosomal translocations associated with the lymphoma, that we give a little more aggressive chemo immunotherapy regimen. There are also other subtypes, including a rare type of lymphoma called primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma. Again, categorized a little bit different but sometimes included as a large cell lymphoma. We also give that treatment for.   

Katherine:

Okay. So, there’s a lot of different options available for people.  

Dr. Maddocks:

Correct. And there’s always clinical trials. So, there’s always the option to find something where we’re studying some of these newer therapies. They’re therapies in combination.   

Katherine:

Is a cure possible?  

Dr. Maddocks:

Yes. A cure is possible. When you look at patients who are treated with initial chemotherapy, we cure somewhere between 60 percent to 70 percent of patients with the initial chemotherapy. If patients’ relapse, depending on their age and their condition, they’re candidates for other therapies.  

And therapy including other chemo and stem cell transplant is potentially curable in some patients. And then, there’s a newer therapy called chimeric antigen receptor T-cell, or CAR T-cell therapy, which also looks like it’s curing a subset of patients who relapse or don’t respond to initial therapy.  

What Is the Patient’s Role in Their DLBCL Care?

What Is the Patient’s Role in Their DLBCL Care? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

 What symptoms could diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)patients experience? Dr. Kami Maddocks defines DLBCL and explains the diagnosis, symptoms, sub-types and progression of the disease.

Dr. Kami Maddocks is a hematologist who specializes in treating patients with B-cell malignancies at the The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James. Learn more about Dr. Maddocks.

See More From The Pro-Active DLBCL Patient Toolkit

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Emerging DLBCL Treatments That Patients Should Know About

 
A DLBCL Expert Debunks Common Patient Misconceptions

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Understanding DLBCL Treatment Classes


Transcript:

Katherine:

Now, let’s learn more about DLBCL. For those who may be newly diagnosed, what is it?  

Dr. Maddocks:

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So, this is considered a blood cancer. Lymphomas are a cancer of the lymphocyte, which is one of the types of blood cells that form your immune system. So, when you think about your nodes, these are part of the cells that help fight different types of infection. So, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is one of the types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, it’s aggressive, and it is considered an aggressive form of lymphoma. And it’s when you get a cancer of those lymph cells that often involved the lymph nodes but could also involve bone marrow, blood cells, other sites outside of the lymph nodes.  

Katherine:

Do we know what causes DLBCL?   

Dr. Maddocks:

For the most part, we don’t know what causes diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. So, most of the time, it’s going to arise with patients not having risk factors. We know that age is the most common risk factor with the median diagnosis of a patient in their 60s.  

Although, we also know that diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, why it’s more common to be diagnosed later in life, can occur across all the age spectrum. So, you see this in pediatric adolescents, young adults, and older adults. There are some causes. These represent more than minority of cases but certain viruses, including HIV virus, can be associated with the development of lymphoma. Certain other medical conditions, like rheumatologic conditions and some of the treatments for these, can be associated, and then, some chemical exposures. But in general, most of the time, we’re not going to have an identified cause.  

Katherine:

What are the symptoms?  

Dr. Maddocks:

They can look a little bit different for different patients. So, because this is often a cancer, most of the time there will be lymph node involvement. For some patients, they can actually feel or somebody will see a lymph node that grows. Most of the time, when this occurs, it’s going to be in the neck, under the armpits, or in the groin area.  

Patients can start to have symptoms from other sites, of those lymph nodes growing or disease so that they can get pain or shortness of breath. Or they can have what’s called B symptoms. So, B symptoms are inflammatory like symptoms from the lymphoma, and these include weight loss. So, a rapid change in weight for no reason. Night sweats. So, daily night sweats, we call them drenching night sweats. They wake up the patient, they soak their clothes, sometimes they soak the whole bed. And then, fatigue. So, extreme fatigue, not able to do your daily activities. And then, occasional people will have cyclical fevers.  

Katherine:

Are there different types of DLBCL?  

Dr. Maddocks:

So, in general, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, there’s one major subtype. You can divide it into different pathological or molecular subtypes.  

So, where the cell develops lymphoma during the cell’s development, there are different chromosome abnormalities. So, there are different categorizations but in general, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma itself is considered – it’s treated, often, the same even with these different subtypes. So, there are different subtypes but in general, they’re all considered a form of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.  

Katherine:

They’re under this umbrella of DLBCL.  

Dr. Maddocks:

Yeah. Yeah.  

Katherine:

Yeah. Do patients usually get diagnosed after they experience some symptoms?  

Dr. Maddocks:

So, because this is an aggressive lymphoma, there are a lot of patients that will have symptoms with this, and that’s how they’ll present via either noticing the lymph nodes, having the B symptoms, or having pain, or other abnormalities from the lymphoma progressing.  

Occasionally, whereas indolent lymphoma is more commonly found of incidentally. Occasionally, that’ll be the case with these, but I would say a fair number of patients have some sort of symptom or something that brings them to medical attention.  

Katherine:

How does DLBCL progress?  

Dr. Maddocks:

So, they’re different, as far as there’s more aggressive and less aggressive. So, some patients can develop symptoms, really, over days to weeks. Whereas, some patients are more weeks to months.