Research - clinical trials for NHL
Cancer research trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for NHL. Trials carried out on patients are known as clinical trials.
These may be carried out to:
test new treatments, such as new chemotherapy drugs, gene therapy or cancer vaccines
look at new combinations of existing treatments, or change the way they are given, in order to make them more effective or reduce side effects
compare the effectiveness of drugs used for symptom control
find out how treatments for NHL work
see which treatments are the most cost-effective.
Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different type of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or other treatment is better than what’s already available.
Clinical trials are not just for patients who have already had treatment for NHL.
Taking part in a trial
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You may be invited to take part in a clinical trial, and there can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about cancer and develop new treatments.
You will be carefully monitored during and after the study. Before taking part, you will be given information about the trial and what it involves. Taking part is voluntary, and even if you give your consent, you can withdraw at any time. Usually, several hospitals around the country take part in these trials.
If you decide not to take part in a trial, your decision will be respected and you do not have to give a reason. There will be no change in the way you are treated by the hospital staff and you’ll be offered the best standard treatment for your situation.
It’s important to bear in mind that some treatments that look promising at first are often later found not to be as good as existing treatments, or to have side effects that outweigh the benefits.
We have more information on clinical trials.
Blood and tumour samples
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Blood samples and bone marrow or tumour biopsies may be taken to help make the initial diagnosis. You may be asked for your permission to use some of your samples for research into lymphoma. If you’re taking part in a trial you may also be asked to give samples, which may be frozen and stored for future use when new research techniques become available. Your name will be removed from the samples so you can’t be identified.
The research may be carried out at the hospital where you are treated, or at another one. This type of research takes a long time, and results may not be available for many years. The samples will be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment, which will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.
There are currently a number of research studies looking at new treatments for specific types of NHL. You may be asked to take part in one of them.
New combinations of chemotherapy drugs are being tested to see how effective they are in the treatment of NHL, and to compare them with current treatments.
There are a number of targeted therapies being tested for different types of NHL. Many of these are being given in combination with chemotherapy drugs. They include monoclonal antibodies
, angiogenesis inhibitors
(drugs which cause tumour cells to die by interfering with their blood supply), cancer growth inhibitors
(drugs which stop cancer cells growing by blocking chemical signals within the cell) and gene therapies.
Stem cell transplants
Studies are looking into ways of improving treatment for types of NHL that don’t respond well to chemotherapy. For example, one study is trying to find out if it’s better to have a transplant when people first go into remission, rather than waiting until the lymphoma comes back.