What chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) research advances have emerged recently? Dr. Paul Barr shares how CLL treatments have advanced in recent years and how progress has impacted quality of life for patients.
Dr. Paul Barr is Professor of Hematology/Oncology at University of Rochester Medical Center. Learn more about Dr. Barr, here.
What are you excited about when it comes to CLL research?
Well, it’s hard not to be excited, honestly. Five years ago, roughly, we were largely using chemotherapy.
And while patients could do very well, not all of them did. And in such a short period of time, everything has been turned on its head. We have better treatments for safer, patients are doing better, they’re living longer. There are more novel treatments being studied now. And we start to wonder if with some of the newer treatments, if maybe we actually can cure this disease. Maybe if the majority of them, they might be able to live a normal lifespan. So, we’re incredibly optimistic.
Those are very general statements, but they really are, they come from just the impressive outcomes that we’ve seen from patients being able to be at home, take their treatment, go into deeper remissions and do better in the long-term.
So, yeah, there’s a lot to be excited about. And that’s why my answer is just kind of general. There’s a lot to focus on, from the different novel agents to MRD-guided therapy, to some of the CAR-T products that are coming out. I really think it’ll continue to change at a pretty rapid pace.
That sounds very promising. When it comes to new developments in research, how can patients discuss this type of information with their doctor to find out if there’s a new approach or a clinical trial that might be right for them?
Well, I honestly think they should feel empowered to simply ask. I know a lot of my patients they will want to know anything new. They can ask us, generally is that, they know that we have these major meetings twice a year. And what’s new with these treatments. Or many of them are on clinical trials and want to know, “Do we have any results yet? What’s been changing?” And sometimes at the end of every visit, we’ll spend five minutes just talking about the new developments or what’s coming down the pike or how practice is changing.
I’m just in the routine of having this conversation with most of the patients on a recurring basis. And honestly, they feel well-served, like we’re keeping them up to date. I think patients enjoy that sort of conversation. So, I wouldn’t feel shy about simply asking.