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Rituxan for ALL

Rituxan for ALL

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).