Published on October 26, 2020
What Should Newly-Diagnosed Mantle Cell Lymphoma Patients Know?
What is mantle cell lymphoma (MCL)? Why does it occur, and how is it diagnosed? What steps should someone take after receiving an MCL diagnosis? Finally, what advice do doctors have for newly diagnosed MCL patients? Dr. Jonathan Friedberg, Director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute and Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester, is here to share helpful information on the disease.
Transcript | Helpful Information for a New Mantle Cell Lymphoma Diagnosis
Dr. Friedberg: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a whole group of diseases ranging from very aggressive cancers to very slow-growing cancers, all of which have unique challenges. And I think bringing all that together is quite exciting, particularly in an era where the science is changing so quickly.
What Is Mantle Cell Lymphoma?
Mantle cell lymphoma is a disease of the blood cell called a lymphocyte where the lymphocyte has developed mistakes in it. And as a result of those mistakes, it's making too many copies of itself and not dying like it should. It occurs more frequently in men than women, and it occurs in older patients more commonly than younger patients.
Once you establish the diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma, usually the first step is to figure out the extent of mantle cell lymphoma in the body. And that's most commonly done with the PET/CT scan, which allows you to look at both organs as well as lymph node sites to find areas that glow on that scan, which are consistent with lymphoma.
At times, a bone marrow biopsy or blood work is also done to figure out the extent of the disease. And historically, people used to also do colonoscopies as well, although we've more frequently now gotten away from doing that because in most cases, the colonoscopy was positive. So, we generally presume that there's colonic involvement as we're making treatment decisions.
What Advice Can You Offer a Newly Diagnosed Patient?
Because mantle cell lymphoma is a rather uncommon kind of lymphoma and traditionally has been more challenging to treat as well as has evaded cure in many cases, I think it's always important to try to get an expert opinion from a lymphoma specialty center, if that's possible.
Ideally, patients might want to consider a clinical trial, and there are a number of interesting clinical trials in the United States now asking important questions in this disease, as far as adding new drugs, trying to get away from some of the aggressive chemotherapy toward more targeted agents, as well as the use of some new cellular therapies like CAR T-cell therapy. And all of these I think are, ultimately, going to have an impact on the natural history of this disease, a favorable impact. So, having access to some of those cutting-edge therapies would be important.