Rituxan for ALL

Last Modified: September 23, 2007

Question:

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My oncologist has started a treatment regimen of Rituxan for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, Ph+. I cannot find any research that indicates that Rituxan is used for treatment of this disease. I have only found where it is used for the treatment of lymphomas and to get patients ready for transplants. Can you clarify this?

Answer:

Selina M. Luger, MD, Director of the Leukemia Program and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Rituxan is a monoclonal antibody drug that is often used to treat lymphoid malignancies. The term "lymphoid" refers to anything involving lymphatic tissue, i.e. lymph nodes.

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia , also known as ALL, is a type of lymphoid malignancy that travels through the blood. There have been reports of patients treated with Rituxan in combination with other therapeutic agents for ALL, both Ph-negative and Ph-positive types (Ph=Philadelphia chromosome). I am not aware of treatment with Rituxan as a single agent (given alone) for ALL. Treatment for Ph-positive disease should include one of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (such as Gleevec/Imatinib or dasatinib).

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