New Cancer Therapy at New York Methodist Hospital Targets Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

Jul 26, 2016

Three doctors explaining to a patient

Left to right, Leila Tchelebi, M.D., radiation oncology resident physician, Hani Ashamalla, M.D., chair of radiation oncology, and Ioannis Parameritis, D.A.B.R., medical physicist, explain the new non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment in NYP/BM's Department of Radiation Oncology. The therapy is administered via injection.

Patients battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) now have a powerful new ally on their side, thanks to a treatment recently introduced at NewYork-Presbyterian/Brooklyn Methodist (NYP/BM). The treatment is a tiny but mighty radioisotope (radioactive particle) called yttrium-90. It is particularly deadly to certain types of low-grade (slowly progressing) or follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In combination with a type of the immunoglobulin G (IgG1) antibody, yttrium-90 can home in on cancer cells at the molecular level, and then administer cancer-killing radiation to those cells.

"Every year, more than 15,000 Americans are diagnosed with follicular and/or low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (a cancer that originates in the cells of the body's immune system)," said Hani Ashamalla, M.D., chair of radiation oncology at NYP/BM. "The first line of defense against this type of lymphoma is typically close monitoring and treatment with chemotherapy or anti-cancer drugs. However, if the patient's cancer recurs after the initial treatment, this new therapy can be added to help prevent it from spreading, thereby giving the patient a much better chance of a cure than previous options."

The chemical properties of yttrium-90 allow the radiation it emits to penetrate deeply into tumors and nearby cancer cells without affecting adjacent organs. This means that it does not result in many of the uncomfortable side effects sometimes associated with chemotherapy.

"With any type of treatment for cancer, 'success' means we achieve the best result with the fewest side effects for our patients," said Alan Astrow, M.D., chief of hematology/oncology at NYP/BM. "This new therapy meets those standards and is extraordinarily powerful and effective. It's just one more way we are helping patients living with cancer treat their disease while maintaining their quality of life."

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