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THURSDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- The final phase of a drug study finds that two years of treatment with rituximab (Rituxan) cuts in half the risk that follicular lymphoma patients who respond to chemotherapy will suffer a recurrence of the disease.
"These findings provide hope for the way we manage this disease. Rituximab maintenance therapy is likely to become a new standard of care for these patients," study author Dr. Gilles Salles, a professor of medicine at the University of Lyon in France, said in a news release. Typically, he noted, patients often relapse within a few years of their initial treatment.
The researchers reached their conclusions after randomly assigning patients with follicular lymphoma to two years of treatment with the drug (505 patients) or no treatment with the drug (513 patients).
After a median of 25 months, 34 percent of those who didn't take the treatment had recurrence of the disease, compared to 18 percent of those who did take it.
However, more than a third of the rituximab patients suffered from a side effect -- infections.
In another study, researchers report that an interim analysis of a final-stage drug study suggests that lenalidomide (Revlimid) slows progression of multiple myeloma by 54 percent in certain patients -- those who underwent high-dose chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant.
"These results are very promising. If confirmed in the final analysis, they suggest that maintenance therapy with lenalidomide can improve quality of life in patients with myeloma by delaying the need for more intensive therapy to treat a relapse," study author Michel Attal, a professor of hematology at Purpan Hospital in Toulouse in France, said in a news release.
The studies are to be presented June 5 and 6 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting, in Chicago.
For more about lymphoma, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.