Is Observation Dead in Follicular Lymphoma? No, But the Apoptosis Pathway Has Been Activated

Authors: Richard I. Fisher MD 1 and Nadia Khan MD 1
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  • 1 From Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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Follicular lymphoma (FL), the most common indolent type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, presents with a highly variable clinical course and affects the overall survival (OS) of patients. Although observation has been adopted widely by clinicians in the management of patients with FL, the benefits of early treatment must be reviewed in light of the significant progress made in the treatment of symptomatic or higher-tumor-burden FL. When treatment is indicated, a variety of combination chemotherapeutic regimens have proven efficacy and have shown improvements in both progression-free and event-free survival, and the addition of rituximab to these regimens has shown a statistically significant improvement in OS. Additionally, single-agent rituximab has been added to the possible therapeutic options for patients with low-tumor-burden FL. Although a paucity of clinical data exists on the upfront treatment of the low-tumor-burden population, the question of whether early treatment, especially with the newer rituximab-containing chemotherapy regimens, would improve OS is thought-provoking. Furthermore, novel targeted therapies with tolerable side effect profiles are rapidly advancing in the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The future for patients with low-tumor-burden FL is brighter than ever before.

Correspondence: Nadia Khan, MD, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111. E-mail:

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