Cancer is a disease that almost everyone will confront at some point in their lives, either personally or through a loved one. While some cancers may go into remission and not recur, others may never go into remission or may relapse. In some cases, patients may find themselves living with cancer as a chronic illness. As the world continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure patients receive proper care when managing a chronic cancer, like follicular lymphoma (FL).1 Having routine and open conversations with healthcare providers via telemedicine, and in-person visits when proper safety precautions are in place, can help support improved health outcomes. There is also new hope as treatment advances give patients with FL, and the doctors who treat them, new options to help fight this debilitating cancer.
Follicular lymphoma is a slow growing (indolent) and incurable blood cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, which is a system of lymph nodes found throughout the body, including the neck, underarms, chest, abdomen, and groin/pelvis.2 Of the estimated 74,000 individuals diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States each year3, FL accounts for approximately 20% of all cases, or about 14,800 individuals.4 Patients often experience periods of remission before the disease returns (relapse), and they typically undergo treatment with numerous therapies during their journey with FL. In addition, many patients find their cancer has become resistant to treatments they’ve received before, leaving them with fewer options when their cancer returns. Given the mostly subtle symptoms associated with FL, a relapse may be difficult to detect without routine check-ins with a doctor.
Leading oncologist, Dr. John M. Burke, sees many patients with FL at his practice at Rocky Mountain Cancer Center, and in today’s climate, evaluates and treats many of them virtually. “I see first-hand how devastating it can be for patients and their families when treatment stops working, and when they face relapse. Given that many FL patients tend to be older, they wonder whether the benefits of additional treatment outweigh the risk of side effects. Doctors and scientists are constantly searching for new therapies that provide durable responses with a low rate of toxicities.”
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved TAZVERIK® (tazemetostat) to treat patients with follicular lymphoma when the disease comes back or becomes worse after receiving at least two prior medicines.5 The approval of TAZVERIK in these patients is based on a study that measured the percentage of patients whose tumor shrank or disappeared after treatment and how long that response lasted. TAZVERIK is still being studied to confirm these benefits. It is not known whether TAZVERIK is safe and effective in children less than 16 years of age.5 TAZVERIK is associated with side effects and may not be suitable for every patient. Since everyone may react differently to treatment, it is important to talk with your doctor about whether a specific treatment may work for you.
“TAZVERIK is a new type of therapy that works differently from other cancer treatments. It is an oral medicine designed to target and block EZH2, a protein that helps regulate the development of a type of white blood cell called B lymphocytes that are found in bone marrow, blood, and lymph system. The targeting of EZH2 activity by TAZVERIK has now been shown to be an effective and well tolerated strategy in some patients with follicular lymphoma. I’m excited to be able to offer this new treatment option to my patients,” said Dr. Burke. “Although we all continue to battle this horrible COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for patients and doctors to remember that cancer is still out there and still a huge problem in our society. People need to report any concerning symptoms and do their best to maintain contact with their doctors, either in person or via telemedicine. Having a new treatment like TAZVERIK that can be taken orally at home is an important new option for patients with relapsed/refractory follicular lymphoma.”
While FL can occur at any age, it is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 55-64, with a median age of 63 at diagnosis.6 On average, 88% of patients diagnosed with FL survive for at least five years after diagnosis,6 and while the median overall survival is 13-14 years from diagnosis, which is longer than that of other cancers, FL remains incurable.7,8 Many patients are asymptomatic at diagnosis, but common symptoms may include painless, swollen lymph nodes, abdominal or chest pain, persistent fatigue, and fever, night sweats or unexplained weight loss.9
Because FL is an incurable disease, it is critical for patients to work closely with their doctor to develop a treatment plan that considers where they are in life, with respect to their age, profession, and lifestyle.
For more information about follicular lymphoma, including diagnosis and available treatment options, talk to your doctor today. For more information on TAZVERIK, including full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide, please visit the TAZVERIK site (link below).
What is TAZVERIK?
TAZVERIK is a prescription medicine used to treat:
- Adults with follicular lymphoma when the disease has come back or did not respond to treatment, whose tumors have an abnormal EZH2 gene, and who have been treated with at least two prior medicines. Your healthcare provider will perform a test to make sure TAZVERIK is right for you.
- Adults with follicular lymphoma when the disease has come back or did not respond to treatment, who have no other satisfactory treatment options.
The approval of TAZVERIK in these patients is based on a study that measured the percentage of patients whose tumor shrank or disappeared after treatment and how long that response lasted. TAZVERIK is still being studied to confirm these benefits.
It is not known if TAZVERIK is safe and effective in children less than 16 years of age.
Important Safety Information
What is the most important information I should know about TAZVERIK?
TAZVERIK can cause serious side effects, including:
- Risk of new cancers. An increase in new (second) cancers has happened in people who were treated with TAZVERIK. Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk of developing new cancers. Your healthcare provider will monitor you for new cancers after your treatment with TAZVERIK. Tell your healthcare provider if you are more tired than usual, or have easy bruising, fever, bone pain, or paleness.
Before taking TAZVERIK tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:
- Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. TAZVERIK can harm your unborn baby. Your healthcare provider will give you a pregnancy test before you start treatment with TAZVERIK. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
- Females who are able to become pregnant should use effective non-hormonal birth control (such as condoms) during treatment and for 6 months after the final dose of TAZVERIK. Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) and other hormonal forms of birth control may not be effective if used during treatment with TAZVERIK. Talk to your healthcare provider about birth control options that are right for you.
- Males with female partners who are able to become pregnant should use effective birth control during treatment and for 3 months after the final dose of TAZVERIK.
- Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if TAZVERIK passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment and for 1 week after the final dose of TAZVERIK.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. TAZVERIK may affect the way other medicines work and other medicines may affect how TAZVERIK works.
What should I avoid while taking TAZVERIK?
- Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice during treatment with TAZVERIK.
- Avoid taking St. John’s wort during treatment with TAZVERIK.
Talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new medications or supplements.
What are the possible side effects of TAZVERIK?
The most common side effects of TAZVERIK in people with follicular lymphoma include:
- Cold-like symptoms (upper respiratory infection)
- Bone and muscle pain
- Stomach (abdominal) pain
These are not all the possible side effects of TAZVERIK.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA- 1088.
Please see full Prescribing Information for TAZVERIK and Medication Guide, available at www.tazverik.com.
1 Managing Cancer as a Chronic Illness. American Cancer Society. Accessed May 27, 2020. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorship-during-and-after-treatment/when-cancer-doesnt-go- away.html
2 Lymphoma- Non-Hodgkin: Introduction. Cancer.Net. Accessed May 27, 2020. Available at: https:// www.cancer.net/cancer-types/lymphoma-non-hodgkin/introduction
3 About Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. American Cancer Society. Accessed May 27, 2020. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non- hodgkin-lymphoma/about.html.
4 Lymphoma- Non-Hodgkin: Introduction. Cancer.Net. Accessed May 27, 2020. Available at: https:// www.cancer.net/cancer-types/lymphoma-non-hodgkin/introduction
5 TAZVERIK® (tazemetostat) Prescribing Information. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Epizyme, Inc; June 2020.
6 Cancer Stat Facts: NHL – Follicular Lymphoma. National Cancer Institute, SEER. Available at: https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/follicular.html
7 Tan D, et al. Improvements in observed and relative survival in follicular grade 1-2 lymphoma during 4 decades: the Stanford University experience. Blood. 2013;122(6):981-987. doi: 10.1182/blood-2013-03- 491514.
8 Liu Q, et al. Improvement and Failure-Free Survival in Stage IV Follicular Lymphoma: 25 years of treatment experience at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. J Clin Oncol. 2006:24(10):1582-9. doi: 10:1200/JCO.2005.03.3696.
9 Lymphoma. Mayo Clinic. Accessed May 27, 2020. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lymphoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20352638