Researchers say lymphoma cure may be closer than you think

Posted at 5:57 PM, Oct 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 17:57:00-04

Earlier this week Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen passed away from complications related to lymphoma: a common type of blood cancer.  Each year more than 100,000 people are diagnosed with one type of the disease in the United States, but doctors and researchers here in New York are working on finding a cure for all subtypes of the deadly disease and they might be closer than you'd ever imagine.

"I'm sure that people in the audience have a friend or an acquaintance with lymphoma, they just don't know it, because there are many people out there that have dealt with it and are moving on. And dealing with it is part of their lives," said Dr. John Leonard Associate Dean for Clinical Research, Weill Cornell Medicine & NewYork-Presbyterian.

Right now about 1 million people in the country are dealing with or have survived some form of the blood cancer known as lymphoma. The disease affects the white blood cells, making it difficult to defend against bacteria or viruses.

Allen dealt with the disease for a decade before he passed away earlier this week. Right now, New York Giants General Manger Dave Gettleman is dealing with the disease after being diagnosed over the summer.

With more than 100 sub-types of lymphoma, researchers are focused on finding the best way to treat each form of the cancer.

"It's precision treatment of the tumor and precision treatment of the patient," said Leonard.

Researchers have taken huge leaps forward to treat all forms of lymphoma thanks to clinical trials and the work being done in the lab at places like New York Pesbyterian in the last five years, he said.

"We're making dramatic changes.  A lot of that is research.  We've worked with the Lymphoma Research Foundation and other organizations to make that progress," he said. "There are a lot of us working on trying to improve treatments for lymphoma and the understanding of lymphoma."

That bodes well for patients with all types of cancer because there's a crossover in research and treatment. And that gives Dr. Leonard the confidence to use a different C-word when it comes to lymphoma.

"We do cure some lymphomas and I have no doubt we'll cure many more."