Join Lymphoma Clinical Trials
Lymphoma clinical trials are divided into two groups; the two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma (frequently called Hodgkin disease) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Additionally, there are multiple types of non-Hodgkin lymphomas, some of which include Burkitt lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, mycosis fungoides, and anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
All non-Hodgkin lymphomas originate in one of two types of white blood cells: T-cells or B-cells, whereas Hodgkin disease is characterized by the presence of a type of cell known as the Reed-Sternberg cell.
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas are much more common than Hodgkin disease; approximately 70,000 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphomas will be diagnosed in the United States in 2012, versus only about 9,000 cases of Hodgkin disease.
A great deal of research is being done to investigate new and improved methods of treating non-Hodgkin lymphomas through the use of new chemotherapy drugs, drug therapies that attack specific parts of cancerous cells, and vaccine therapies.
Fortunately, cure rates for Hodgkin disease are relatively high; however, the downside of that success is that conventional treatments often result in long-term side effects. As a result, much research related to Hodgkin disease is focused on identifying less toxic treatments that have fewer lasting side effects.
What Will Lymphoma Clinical Trials Be Like?
The types of tests and assessments used in a lymphoma clinical trial will depend greatly upon the specific type of lymphoma that you have (i.e., Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin). Ultimately, the design of the study and all that is involved will determine the specific procedures that you will undergo. Below are a few possible components of lymphoma clinical trials:
- Chromosome analysis and/or genetic testing of blood and/or lymph tissue or fluid.
- Lymph node biopsies, either using a needle inserted through the skin or via surgical removal.
- Spinal tap, which is a procedure that involves removing a sample of the fluid surrounding your spinal cord.
- Blood tests to check blood cell counts, monitor medication levels, and detect liver or kidney problems.
- Chest x-ray
- Computed tomography (CT scan, or “CAT scan”) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These imaging procedures are non-invasive and provide detailed pictures of areas inside your body.
- Ultrasound examination of lymph nodes.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which is an imaging procedure that uses a radioactive sugar injected into the blood through a vein in the arm. This substance attaches to cancer cells in the body, making them visible when viewed by a special camera.
- Heart and lung tests to monitor for side effects from certain chemotherapy drugs.
- Pain assessments
- Quality of life assessments to evaluate how your cancer is impacting your ability to perform activities of daily living.
Typical Lymphoma Clinical Trial Protocol:
Much of the current lymphoma-related research focuses on newer and better treatment options for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and less-toxic therapies for Hodgkin disease. Possible examples of lymphoma clinical trials include the following:
- A clinical trial that evaluates the ability of a new drug to reduce the symptoms associated with T-cell lymphoma while at the same time decreasing the amount of cancer within the body.
- A clinical trial that investigates the effectiveness of a new combination of chemotherapy drugs compared to standard chemotherapy for B-cell lymphoma, and which also compares the side effects of both treatment approaches.
- A clinical trial designed to determine the effectiveness of a new vaccine (developed using an individual’s own white blood cells) that is designed to seek out and attack follicular lymphoma.
- A clinical trial designed to investigate a new combination of four chemotherapy drugs compared to standard chemotherapy for Hodgkin disease, to see if the new drug combination is as effective as standard chemotherapy yet with fewer side effects.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many clinical trials involve the comparison of an investigational treatment to a “standard” treatment. Some studies determine which therapy a patient receives through a process known as randomization, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive either the investigational treatment or the standard treatment.
On occasion, a trial will investigate the use of a standard treatment plus a new drug compared to standard treatment plus a placebo. Placebos are inactive or “sham” treatments that are identical in appearance to the active treatment but have no therapeutic value.
Placebos are necessary to help determine if adverse effects that occur during the clinical trial are the result of the investigational treatment or due to some other factor. They also allow researchers to measure the effects of the active treatment and observe what would have happened without it.
In rare instances where no standard therapy exists, or when a new drug is being evaluated for the first time in a specific cancer, the investigational treatment might be compared to a placebo alone. In these types of trials, those patients who are randomized to the placebo group do not receive an active treatment.
This is rarely done in cancer clinical trials; however it may occasionally be necessary from a scientific standpoint. Placebo-only trials will only be done when ethically appropriate and when patients have been adequately informed that they may end up receiving the placebo rather than the active treatment.
It is very important to note, however, that no one should ever participate in such a placebo trial when there is a widely available and highly effective standard treatment already in existence for their particular type of cancer and clinical situation.
Trial Eligibility and Medical Information Needed:
The type of clinical trial you may be eligible for often depends on many factors, including your disease stage, treatment history, and a variety of clinical findings. Therefore, it is important to know many details pertaining to your specific diagnosis when searching for clinical trials. Examples of the details you will want to have on hand include:
- The specific type of lymphoma you have (i.e., follicular lymphoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, etc.). Also know these details for any prior cancer you have had.
- Know your performance status, which estimates how well you perform normal activities of daily living. Examples: Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) and the ECOG scale.
- Know your treatment history, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgery.
- Know your blood cell counts, liver function test results, and kidney function test results.
Suggested Search Terms:
Once you are ready to begin your search for lymphoma clinical trials, the following search terms may be of use when combined with the specific type of lymphoma you have:
“Hodgkin disease treatment,” “vaccine,” “fatigue,” “children,” “pediatric,” “remission,” “relapse,” “side effects,” “chemotherapy,” “radiation therapy,” “HIV-associated,” and “nutrition.”
Current Search Term: