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People with rare blood cancer live longer, healthier lives with new targeted treatment regimen


August 1, 2018


Tubes of bloodA study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, co-authored by Dr. David MacDonald, is providing hope and changing lives for people with Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia. This rare form of cancer occurs in white blood cells called B cells, which normally help fight infections. The trial, which involved 150 patients in nine countries, combined a new targeted treatment called ibrutinib with an older treatment called rituximab. After 2.5 years, 83 percent of people who received the combination were stable or improved, compared to 28 percent for those who received the older treatment alone. Patients who received the combination were also more likely to see their cancer shrink and their anemia improve. Although ibrutinib has not yet been approved as a treatment for Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, patients can speak with their medical specialist about options for access. See the American Society of Hematology Clinical News for details.

“These results are very impressive and meaningful for patients, especially in terms of improving quality of life,” said Dr. MacDonald, Director of the malignant hematology clinical trials group at The Ottawa Hospital and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. “I want to thank the patients who participated in this trial, as the results will improve care for many people in the future.”

Dr. MacDonald was involved in this trial during his previous position at the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre.

Authors: Dimopoulos MA, Tedeschi A, Trotman J, García-Sanz R, Macdonald D, Leblond V, Mahe B, Herbaux C, Tam C, Orsucci L, Palomba ML, Matous JV, Shustik C, Kastritis E, Treon SP, Li J, Salman Z, Graef T, Buske C; iNNOVATE Study Group and the European Consortium for Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia.

Funders: Pharmacyclics, Janssen Research and Development

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