In the cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, certain white blood cells—B cells—in the
lymph tissues proliferate out of control. These malignant immune cells crowd out their healthy
comrades and impair a person's ability to fight disease. Standard chemotherapy sends this
lymphoma into remission only in 30 to 40 percent of patients.
Scientists in Europe now report that a drug called rituximab, or Rituxan, boosts the remission
rate significantly. The researchers treated more than 300 patients who had large B-cell
lymphoma, giving about half of them intravenous rituximab plus an infusion of four standard
chemotherapy drugs. The other patients received standard chemotherapy alone. Treated in
hospitals and clinics in France, Belgium, or Switzerland, all were between age 60 and 80. They
each received eight treatments over 6 weeks.