Lymphoma: How is this blood cancer treated? | Norton Cancer Institute

Lymphoma: How is this blood cancer treated? | Norton Cancer Institute


It is almost always treated with chemotherapy. We are using
more monoclonal antibody therapy, monoclonal antibody therapy is something that has been produced that attacks just the cancer, hopefully, and not the normal cells. Monoclonal antibody
therapies are being used in almost every malignancy now but were initially used in the blood cancers. Monoclonal antibodies are an example of
what we call targeted therapy where the chemical, the biochemical in
this case, the antibody, sticks to the cells, to the cancer cell
and then that is attacked by the body. The body recognizes that as foreign and then it breaks it down and kills it. The way they have that specificity in the term we use as specificity because its specific for
that cell, is that it turns out that all cells
have on their surface not the smooth, shiny, billiard ball, sort
of surface but the surface of the cell is literally studded with lots of different biochemicals and
most of these but not all are proteins and they are stuck there in the surface of the cell. They have various functions, a
lot of functions, but one of the things that we can do
is we can identify proteins on the surface of the bad cells
that do not exist on the surface of the good cell. Then
it’s simply a matter of developing an antibody that will stick to this protein and this
protein is only on the cancer cell. So that’s how you get that specificity is that it’s all circulating around so you’re given these antibodies
intravenously, goes to every nook and cranny of your
body but it only sticks to those cells where it recognizes that it needs to stick.
Like a refrigerator magnet it’s only going to stick right there.