• By Dana Sparks

Science Saturday: Quest to unmask an elusive immune cancer

September 8, 2018

A researcher and her team to journey in search of a worthy goal: better care for patients with lymphoma.

When she began practicing medicine, Dr. Lisa Rimsza, a Mayo Clinic hematopathologist, faced a frustration common in the cancer field. After diagnosing patients with an immune system cancer called lymphoma, she couldn’t provide the information they most wanted to know: What’s my prognosis? What’s the most effective treatment for me?

“Sometimes, the lymphoma could be controlled with chemotherapy, but other patients relapsed repeatedly. Why? We just didn’t have many answers,” she says.At the same time, the researcher within her was fascinated.

“What’s so interesting about lymphoma is that it’s an immune system cancer,” she says. “With most other cancers, cells that become abnormal are attacked by the immune system. But lymphoma originates in the immune system, so the cells that are supposed to attack cancer become cancer themselves. Lymphoma cells have a lot of sneaky ways to avoid being noticed by other immune cells. It’s very curious.”

Lymphoma is the most common immune cancer. It affects a type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes that travel through the blood repelling invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Lymphoma develops when a change or mutation occurs in a lymphocyte, causing the abnormal cell to replicate faster or live longer than normal. Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.

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