PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – Large B-cell lymphoma is a fast-growing and aggressive form of blood cancer and now a recently approved therapy is offering hope to patients whose cancer returns after standard treatment.
Leticia Lopez was a healthy woman with no medical issues until 2007.
“That’s when it started with this headache, journey whatever you want to call it,” she said.
Lopez was diagnosed with Large-B-Cell Lymphoma, the most common of the Non-Hodgkin’s form of blood cancers, and began standard of care treatment.
“About 60% of patients can be cured with that line of therapy however the problem is when the disease comes back,” said Dr. Jose Sandoval-Sus, a hematologist-oncologist with Memorial Healthcare’s Memorial Hospital West Cancer Center.
When that happened to Lopez, Sandoval-Sus gave her hope.
Through a partnership with the Moffitt Malignant Hematology and Cell Therapy Clinic, Lopez was qualified as a candidate for a therapy called CAR-T.
Special T-cells are removed, modified in a lab, then implanted back in the patient.
“And as the cells grow, they actually grow very fast inside of the body, and then they kill cancer. We can offer it to a larger group of patients that are actually in dire need sometimes of this treatment,” Sandoval-Sus said.
Lopez underwent the procedure in September 2021.
Follow-up scans have shown no signs of the disease, leaving her feeling almost like nothing ever happened.
“Ta-da! Great!,” she said with a laugh.
CAR-T therapy has also become a breakthrough for patients with relapsed leukemia and multiple myeloma.