Tag Archive for: Dr. Jane Winter

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.

See More From The Pro-Active DLBCL Patient Toolkit

Related Programs:

The Benefits of Having a Role in Your DLBCL Treatment Decisions

 
What Is the Patient’s Role in Their DLBCL Care

Should DLBCL Patients Consider a Second Opinion

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.

See More From The Pro-Active DLBCL Patient Toolkit

Related Programs:

How Is Relapsed/Refractory DLBCL Treated?

Which Factors Impact DLBCL Treatment Decisions?

Which Factors Impact DLBCL Treatment Decisions?

How Is DLBCL Treatment Effectiveness Monitored?


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.

See More From The Pro-Active DLBCL Patient Toolkit

Related Programs:

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 Is Relapsed or Transformed Follicular Lymphoma Treated?

How Is Relapsed or Transformed Follicular Lymphoma Treated? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Follicular lymphoma (FL) expert Dr. Jane Winter explains relapsed or transformed follicular lymphoma and outlines treatment approaches for these FL types.

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.

See More from The Pro-Active Follicular Lymphoma Patient Toolkit

Related Programs:

Follicular Lymphoma Treatment Decisions What’s Right for You (1)

Follicular Lymphoma Treatment Decisions: What’s Right for You? 

What Treatment Options Are Available for Relapsed Follicular Lymphoma?

What Treatment Options Are Available for Relapsed Follicular Lymphoma? 

Follicular Lymphoma: What Treatment Options Are Available?

Follicular Lymphoma: What Treatment Options Are Available?


Transcript:

Laura Beth:

Dr. Winter, what happens if a patient’s follicular lymphoma relapses? What is the approach to treatment? 

Dr. Winter:

And so, generally, it’s probably one in five patients whose disease sort of comes back and becomes somewhat problematic requiring repeated therapies where many, many patients have a very kind of indolent course that may require treatment intermittently, but tends to be very amenable to treatment. And then the other point to be made about follicular lymphoma is indeed that a fraction of patients every year will go on to what we call transform. That means their disease acquires and changes biologically or at least a clone of their disease changes and becomes a much more aggressive process similar to a newly diagnosed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, an aggressive lymphoma.  

And these transformations then require treatment as if they were an aggressive lymphoma. And they also, despite being somewhat frightening because of the sense of changing from a low-grade to a more aggressive process, in very many cases, these are well treated with standard, especially in patients who haven’t had prior therapy for follicular lymphoma, which is rituximab (Rituxan), these patients are well treated with our standard treatment for aggressive lymphoma Rituxan CHOP chemotherapy, and do very well. So, even though that sounds like a frightening occurrence, for the vast majority, it’s very treatable. 

And patients go into remission and stay in remission for the most part, so it’s not as frightening as it might sound. And how many patients and when do they transform? There’s lots of confusing data. Basically, there’s some data that suggests that the majority of patients transform early in the first five years, whereas other data suggests that it’s sort of every year, patients are at risk so that the longer you have follicular lymphoma, perhaps, the greater the risk overall of this kind of change in the biology. But, as I said, for a good significant number of patients, this is relatively easily treated with standard chemotherapy.   

Just another point in terms of potentially curative therapies these days, we’re afraid to use that term in follicular lymphoma because it does have this tendency to sort of keep coming back over time. So, whether any treatment is truly curative remains to be seen. Perhaps a very, very small fraction of patients might be eligible, young patients, for an allogeneic stem cell transplant from someone else. But, this is not commonly pursued these days, as well as a new therapy called CAR T-cell therapy, which is a form of immunotherapy and may indeed be curative.  

But at this point, it’s really too early to make a claim of cure with that strategy. But, a very exciting new immunotherapy as well as some other new immunotherapy is something called “bite cells,” which harness our own immune system, much like the CAR-T cells do. So, lots of new things. So, these are exciting times for us as treating physicians and hematologists, but they are exciting times for patients because we have so much to offer.  

An Expert’s Perspective on Emerging Follicular Lymphoma Research

An Expert’s Perspective on Emerging Follicular Lymphoma Research from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What’s the latest on emerging follicular lymphoma research? Dr. Jane Winter shares how follicular lymphoma treatment has advanced and provides an overview of treatment options.

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.

See More from The Pro-Active Follicular Lymphoma Patient Toolkit

Related Programs:

Emerging Follicular Lymphoma Treatment Approaches

Emerging Follicular Lymphoma Treatment Approaches

Follicular Lymphoma Research and Treatment Updates

Follicular Lymphoma Research and Treatment Updates

Follicular Lymphoma: What Treatment Options Are Available?

Follicular Lymphoma: What Treatment Options Are Available?


Transcript:

Laura Beth:

Dr. Winter, is there emerging follicular lymphoma research that you are excited about?   

Dr. Winter:

So, first of all, I think it’s very important to underscore the fact that for a newly diagnosed patient with follicular lymphoma today, survival is measured in decades with an “S,” so, 10, 20-plus years. And that’s based on data that’s already becoming outdated such that it’s the likelihood with some of the newer treatment options is there’s never been a more exciting time, I often say, to be a hematologist because of all the exciting new tools we have to our trade.  

So, lots of new treatments. But, even with the old treatments, and I mean rituximab-based treatments, the outcome is excellent. We have new treatments. We have all kinds of new treatments these days for follicular lymphoma such that it’s a veritable buffet of treatment options to choose from. Nonetheless, often times the first treatment is just either a monoclonal antibody, meaning rituximab, an anti-CD20, which is a protein or marker on the surface of the lymphoma cell. This is immunotherapy, been around now for 30 years and approved for 22 years for the treatment of follicular lymphoma as well as other B-cell lymphomas.  

Other therapies that are typically used frontline include rituximab plus chemotherapy, most commonly a drug called bendamustine, which wasn’t always available, was something that was being developed in East Germany that came to the attention of the Europeans and North Americans only after German unification. And, this has become, along with Rituxan, one of the most commonly used first-line treatments for follicular lymphoma. Other options include a combination of Rituxan and an oral medication called lenalidomide (Revlimid), and this is given three weeks in a row out of every four weeks with Rituxan. Again, this anti-CD20 immunotherapy or antibody. 

And, it’s a very effective but requires some monitoring of blood counts and so on, so it is perhaps not as commonly used as Rituxan and bendamustine as a first-line therapy. But, there are so many additional new options that are either approved or coming along for all of our B-cell lymphomas, and they include many new what we call “targeted agents” as well as immunotherapy including a very new therapy called CAR T-cell therapy. But, one thing I just wanted to say, in addition to the very long anticipated survival of newly diagnosed patients today, it’s really only a small fraction of patients who get into trouble with follicular lymphoma, at least in the short term.  

When Is It Time to Treat Follicular Lymphoma?

When Is It Time to Treat Follicular Lymphoma? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What symptoms might follicular lymphoma patients experience as a trigger for treatment? Dr. Jane Winter shares insight about common symptoms that indicate treatment should begin for optimal patient care.

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.

See More from The Pro-Active Follicular Lymphoma Patient Toolkit

Related Programs:

What Are the Treatment Goals for Follicular Lymphoma?

What Are the Treatment Goals for Follicular Lymphoma?

How Is Follicular Lymphoma Diagnosed and How Does It Progress?

How Is Follicular Lymphoma Diagnosed and How Does It Progress?

What are the stages of Follicular Lymphoma?

What Are the Stages of Follicular Lymphoma?


Transcript:

Laura Beth:

Dr. Winter, what are signs that it is time to treat a patient’s follicular lymphoma? 

Dr. Winter:

Symptoms are the trigger, most often. 

Sometimes, the trigger for treatment is a big enough mass that it’s pushing on something important, for example, the ureter, which is the tube from the kidney to the bladder. And if we have a large mass that either wraps around that ureter or just pushes on it sufficiently to block drainage, it’ll result in a decline in kidney function. So, a rising creatinine may be the signal that things are progressing and it’s time for treatment. Sometimes, the follicular lymphoma involving the lining around the lung can lead to what we call a pleural effusion, fluid in that space. It’s a potential space between the lung and the chest wall.  

So, an accumulation of fluid there restricts the ability to take a deep breath, and that may be an indication for treatment, or just the overall total mass of disease is becoming such that it results in fatigue and is beginning to impair the quality of life and what we call performance status. So, those are triggers for treatment. Decline in blood counts is another. So, follicular lymphoma very commonly involves the bone marrow, and as it progresses and replaces the normal blood cells, it will result in a decline in the red cell count, the hemoglobin that carries oxygen. So, it results in tiredness or shortness of breath, or a low white count such that the numbers of infection fighting cells is compromised.  

Or also at the same time, often the platelet count. And platelets are those little flecks in the blood smear that help to clot blood and prevent bleeding. And so, as they decline, we sometimes see little red spots called petechiae on the lower extremities. But, that’s a pretty uncommon sign in follicular lymphoma. Most often, it would be just a mild anemia that flags progression and bone marrow involvement. So, all of those. So, multi-disease, disease that causes symptoms, disease that causes fluid accumulation around the lung or obstruction of some important organ. 

These are all the signs that it’s time to think about treatment. 

How Is Follicular Lymphoma Diagnosed and How Does It Progress?

How Is Follicular Lymphoma Diagnosed and How Does It Progress? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Follicular lymphoma expert Dr. Jane Winter explains common symptoms, tests involved in diagnosis, and how the disease may progress over time.

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.

See More from The Pro-Active Follicular Lymphoma Patient Toolkit

Related Programs:

What Is Follicular Lymphoma? What Are the Symptoms?

What Is Follicular Lymphoma? What Are the Symptoms?

Three Key Steps for Newly Diagnosed Follicular Lymphoma Patients

Three Key Steps for Newly Diagnosed Follicular Lymphoma Patients

What Is Follicular Lymphoma? What Are the Symptoms?

What Is Follicular Lymphoma?


Transcript:

Laura Beth:

Dr. Winter, how is follicular lymphoma typically diagnosed? 

Dr. Winter:

So, most often, it’s because of a new lump or bump that a patient notes, perhaps a lump in the neck, but also increasingly these days, many individuals wind up getting CT scans. Belly pain for which they go to the emergency room or something to evaluate another diagnosis, maybe some blood in the urine related to a totally different issue. But CT scans often reveal, enlarged lymph nodes or lymph nodes that are borderline and of concern. 

And this will lead to investigation, ultimately, a biopsy, and a diagnosis of follicular lymphoma.  

Laura Beth:

How does follicular lymphoma typically progress?  

Dr. Winter:

So, to start with, most commonly, patients have low burden disease these days, but some adverse diagnosis will have very extensive disease, a big mass in the abdomen, disease in the chest, so, highly variable. For patients who begin with low burden disease, small lymph nodes that are not bothersome, we generally observe these patients. 

And over time, these lymph nodes may begin to grow, and sometimes slowly, sometimes more rapidly to the point where they cause symptoms or are of concern because they’re cosmetically unattractive. There are occasional times where it’s a lump in the neck that just results in too many inquiries from others. So, that’s when we start thinking about maybe it’s time to start some treatment. So, progression, enlargement, sometimes it’ll be the beginning of symptoms. So, most patients with follicular lymphoma, at least in North America, don’t generally have symptoms at presentation, but B symptoms.  

So, fevers, drenching night sweats, and by that, I mean sweats at night that lead to changing your T-shirt, changing the sheets or the nightgown, not the typical middle-aged woman with a hot flash. But, by drenching night sweats, we mean drenching. Unintentional weight loss. So, these are some of the symptoms that one can see, we call them B symptoms, we can see in patients with follicular lymphoma and other lymphomas as well that may signal progression.