In This Section:
Targeted therapies are transforming the way people treat cancer. These carefully designed drugs have already begun to make personalized medicine a reality and will continue to help doctors tailor cancer treatment based on the characteristics of each individual’s cancer.
It is important that health care professionals become familiar with the concept of targeted therapies so they can communicate with their patients about these new approaches and help patients make better-informed treatment decisions.
This tutorial focuses on the variety of targeted therapies that have been and are being developed to treat lymphoma. By completing this tutorial, you will learn the answers to the following questions.
- What are some of the molecules and pathways that are being targeted in lymphoma cells?
- What agents are being developed to target these molecules and pathways?
- Which targeted therapies are currently approved by the FDA for treatment of lymphoma?
- How can I find clinical trials of targeted therapies for lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in cells of the immune system called lymphocytes. Lymphoma occurs when B or T cells acquire changes that allow them to grow uncontrollably. The abnormal cells accumulate in the lymph nodes or other parts of the lymphatic system.
This image shows an outline of a human body on the left with the lymphatic system highlighted. To the right of the body, a normal B and T cell are shown with an arrow leading to a mass of green cancer cells.
There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The majority of Hodgkin lymphomas are classical Hodgkin lymphomas, which consist of characteristic cells called Reed-Sternberg cells. Another much more rare type of Hodgkin lymphoma is nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma.
There are several types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The most common are B cell cancers called diffuse large B cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma. Other B cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas include Burkitt lymphoma, immunoblastic large cell lymphoma, precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphoma, and mantle cell lymphoma. T cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas include mycosis fungoides, anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and precursor T-lymphoblastic lymphoma.