May 28 - World Blood Cancer Day

May 28 - World Blood Cancer Day

Hematooncology is developing extremely dynamically. At the same time, the needs of both patients and doctors in terms of access to modern therapies are growing. The likelihood of developing blood cancers increases with age, so taking into account the aging population, it can be predicted that there will be more and more haemat-oncological patients from year to year. Experts discussed innovative therapies in the treatment of blood cancers during a press conference organized on the occasion of the World Day against Blood Cancer.

The last year was extremely difficult and demanding due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, it was possible to carry out reimbursement processes and changes in drug programs, important e.g. for patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma, primary cutaneous lymphomas, chronic myeloid leukemia, multiple myeloma, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

“This is a great achievement and we are very happy to have access to more and more modern therapies for hematooncology patients. These needs, however, are growing all the time. It is worth remembering that innovative therapies are not only hope for patients, but also real savings for the payer, ”emphasizes Aleksandra Rudnicka, spokesman for the Polish Coalition of Cancer Patients.

“What are the most important unmet needs of blood cancer patients today? In the near future, the greatest reimbursement, clinical and systemic challenge will be to enable access to CAR-T therapy, which was registered by the European Medicines Agency already in 2018. In addition, access to an effective time-limited therapy (venetoclax with obinutuzumab) is extremely important. ) for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Other groups of patients whose needs should be remembered include patients after bone marrow transplants, patients with lymphomas and multiple myeloma, as well as people suffering from myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative syndromes "- lists Prof. dr hab. n.med. Ewa Lech-Marańda, national consultant in the field of hematology.

Predominant therapy in CLL

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common type of leukemia among adults [1]. It mainly affects seniors over 75 years of age, in whom other diseases usually coexist. CLL is an incurable disease, but the enormous progress in the development of science has meant that patients may have a chance to prolong their life in good condition. Some of the modern targeted therapies used to treat CLL patients are programmed to restore the natural process of cancer cell death. “Because they are chemotherapy-free, patients tolerate them much better. Additionally, therapy with venetoclax and obinutuzumab is limited in time (in this case up to 1 year). The research confirmed that 82% of patients did not require further treatment 2 years after the end of the aforementioned first-line therapy. This therapeutic scheme is currently beyond the reach of the Polish patient. Patients are treated first-line with immunochemotherapy. Almost 40% of them relapse 2 years after the end of treatment ”- says Prof. dr hab. n.med. Iwona Hus from the Institute of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine in Warsaw.

These words were confirmed by prof. Clemens Wendtner from the Academic Teaching Hospital in Munich. In Germany, one-year-limited therapy is widely used in first-line patients. Only a small number of patients continue to receive standard immunochemotherapy. As emphasized by prof. Wendtner, however, it will be replaced by targeted treatment in the near future.

For more information on the most urgent needs of blood cancer patients, see the link below:

[1] Leukemia, Chronic lymphocytic leukemia,  http://onkologia.org.pl/bialaczki /, (accessed: 12/02/2021)

Source of information: Polish Cancer Patient Coalition

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