More than 70 years ago, two pharmacologists began looking at mustard gas as a possible treatment for lymphoma. The chemical, used during World War I, lowered blood counts and destroyed lymph nodes in soldiers who were exposed to the gas.
Two decades after the war, a thoracic surgeon named Gustav Lindskog used nitrogen mustard to successfully treat a patient with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The early nitrogen mustard treatments eventually led to the development of successful chemotherapy drugs. “We’ve come a very long way since nitrogen mustard,” says Ann LaCasce, MD, a medical oncologist in the Adult Lymphoma Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. Today, patients have a number of therapy options that are very effective in treating lymphoma, including different forms of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and newer, targeted drugs such as rituximab.
Dr. LaCasce describes the various lymphoma treatment options in “Overview of Therapy of Lymphoma,” a presentation that summarizes the past, present and future of lymphoma therapy.