Radioimmunotherapy, an emerging treatment option for certain patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), enables the targeting of cytotoxic radiation to tumor cells with minimal irradiation of normal cells. Yttrium 90 ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin; Biogen Idec Inc, Cambridge, MA) was approved in February 2002 for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory low-grade, follicular, or transformed B-cell NHL, including patients with rituximab-refractory NHL. Yttrium 90 ibritumomab tiuxetan is an effective treatment with a consistent overall response rate of 73% to 83%. It has a good safety profile and is generally well tolerated in the indicated population. The results of clinical trials show that 90Y ibritumomab tiuxetan can be used effectively and safely in many patients with NHL, including those with mild thrombocytopenia and those with disease that is refractory to rituximab, without the adverse events associated with conventional chemotherapy and external beam radiation therapy. The use of 90Y ibritumomab tiuxetan does not preclude subsequent therapy with other conventional treatment options.
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