Clinical trials play an important role in improving treatments for blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. The primary purpose of leukemia and lymphoma research is to determine if new cancer treatments or new combinations of treatments are better than the current standard treatment options available to leukemia and lymphoma patients.
While there are currently many effective treatment options available for people with leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma, there are some recent advancements in treatment technologies that show promise for improving outcomes for cancer patients.
The blood cancer specialists at Compass Oncology participate in leukemia and lymphoma research so that we can provide access to these new and promising treatments to patients in the Portland area. Clinical trials for leukemia and lymphoma are currently available at our Vancouver location.
Current research studies are assessing the effectiveness of treatments such as immunotherapy, new anticancer drugs, and stem cell transplantation. There are also studies being conducted on the genetics of each type of leukemia and lymphoma. The results could mean new or improved treatment options for patients.
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses your body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy that uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer.
One promising new way to get the patient’s immune system to fight leukemia and lymphoma is CAR T-cell therapy. For this technique, immune cells (called T cells) are removed from a patient, altered in the lab so they have specific substances (called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs) that will help them attach to leukemia cells, and then given back to the patient so they can more effectively seek out the leukemia cells and attack them.
Another promising area of immunotherapy is therapeutic cancer vaccines, which are designed to treat, not prevent, cancer. Many cancer vaccines being developed are intended to start an immune response to an antigen by stimulating T cells (white cells that help fight infection) to search for and destroy the tumor cells. Ideally, the vaccines destroy any remaining cells after other types of cancer treatment and help stop the disease from returning. At this time, therapeutic cancer vaccines for leukemia and lymphoma are only available for clinical trial participants.
Dozens of new drugs are being tested for use against leukemia and lymphoma. Many of these drugs are targeted drugs that specifically attack some of the gene changes seen in the different types of leukemia. Researchers are looking at the best ways to use these drugs, including how effective they may be when used in combination with other therapies such as chemo.
Researchers are always looking at ways to refine stem cell transplants in order to increase their effectiveness, reduce complications, and determine which patients would most benefit from this type of treatment. Several studies are focusing on determining exactly when allogeneic, autologous, and mini-transplants might best be used.
One particular form of stem cell transplantation being studied in clinical trials is reduced-intensity stem cell transplantation (also called nonmyeloablative transplant), which is a modified version of allogeneic transplantation. In reduced-intensity stem cell transplantation, treatment doses are reduced, yet high enough to suppress the immune system and enable graft versus tumor (GVT) effect in which new immune cells may destroy remaining cancer cells. This can be a good option for patients who are not able to tolerate allogeneic stem cell transplant with higher-intensity chemo. You can find more information about stem cell transplants in our cancer treatments sections.
One new research method being studied to help identify and classify different cancers is gene expression profiling. Instead of looking at single genes, this technique allows researchers to study the patterns of many different genes in the cancer cells at the same time. This information could help predict which chemo drugs are likely to be most effective, therefore possibly leading to more personalized treatment for each patient.
Compass Oncology participates in clinical trials that not only help develop new and better ways to treat leukemia and lymphoma for our patients in the Portland area, but for patients across the country as well.
If your hematologist/oncologist thinks you would be a good fit for one of our leukemia or lymphoma research trials they will ask you to meet with a clinical research nurse at the Compass Oncology location in Vancouver to review the trial’s selection criteria, which vary for each researched treatment.
All patients that volunteer to participate in a leukemia or lymphoma research trial are carefully monitored by our cancer research specialists to determine how effective the treatment is. Each patient will also be monitored for side effects. If the treatment isn’t working for a patient, the research team will meet to determine if a different treatment option is available that has the potential to be more effective.
At Compass Oncology, we are involved with more clinical trials than any other cancer treatment facility in the Portland-Vancouver area. At any given time, we have more than 70 active trials for many different types of cancer. Our top priority is to provide our community with access to promising new therapies which may become tomorrow's gold standard in cancer treatment.
If you are considering a clinical trial, here are some frequently asked questions that may help you understand more about clinical trials. Before making your final decision, be sure to discuss any questions or concerns you have with your cancer care team.