Your postal code could save your life… Everywhere, except in Quebec…

MONTREAL, February 4th, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - With today being World Cancer Day, Lymphoma Canada re-launches its "Mêmes chances" campaign to remind all patients in Quebec battling indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (iNHL) that when it comes to medication to help them fight cancer, they deserve the same chances as any other patients in Canada, in the United States and in Europe.

Let us remember that in July of 2013, Lymphoma Canada launched its campaign "Mêmes Chances" (TN: Same Chances) to inform Quebeckers of the fact that a promising new drug for the treatment of relapsed iNHL had not had its therapeutic value recognized by the body responsible for deciding whether a drug will be reimbursed in Quebec. The Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) denied recommending bendamustine, for the treatment of relapsed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that it be added to the list of medication eligible for utilization in Quebec hospitals.

This novel form of treatment has since seen important developments, with all other Canadian provinces having now access to the treatment. Moreover, the bendamustine/rituximab (or BR) association is now the chosen treatment for all newly diagnosed patients as stipulated in the Canadian recommendations in the management of Follicular Lymphoma, a subtype of indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (iNHL).

Most importantly, the BR treatment has proven to double life expectancy for iNHL patients. New scientific data taken from a study on some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (indolent- and mantle cell lymphoma) conducted by Dr. Mathias Rummel and officially presented last December at ASH, the world's leading conference for haematologists, indicate that patients can hope to enjoy at least 5 more years compared to what the usual treatment affords them. Additionally, newly diagnosed iNHL patients treated with the BR combination can expect 6 years without progression of the illness.

Unfortunately, Quebec patients do not have the same chances as they still do not have access to the BR combination for their treatment of their iNHL as it is not yet reimbursed in Quebec.

"This treatment has also shown to improve patients' quality of life compared to two of the traditional treatment methods used against lymphoma (iNHL). The vast majority of lymphoma specialists throughout the world advocate the BR treatment and are allowed to use it.

Furthermore, recent Canadian guidelines published in September of 2014 recommend BR as the first-line treatment against follicular lymphoma," asserts Dr. Pierre Laneuville, haematologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital, "but, since use of the BR treatment was denied in Quebec, patients in the province once more find themselves penalized. This rebuff on the part of Quebec to make such a novel treatment as BR available risks hampering cancer patients' access to the best treatment methods and to new and efficient therapeutic combinations," Dr. Laneuville goes on to say.

"The combination of bendamustine and rituximab (BR) for indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (iNHL) patients clearly exceeds traditional chemotherapy such as RCHOP, because it doubles the length of remission, as well as offering them a better quality of life," says Dr. Nathalie Johnson, hematologist and researcher for the Division of Hematology at the Jewish General Hospital—Sir Mortimer B. Davis, and Assistant Professor at McGill University's Division of Medicine and Oncology. For patients who were not treated with BR in first intention may have access to the treatment at time of relapse. Dr Rummel's recent study demonstrated that in this context, BR may prolong patients' survival, compared to the treatment with flurabine "Without access to BR, patients in Quebec are denied a scientific breakthrough that could potentially prolong their life."

Lamenting the situation of lymphoma patients in Quebec, Lymphoma Canada's Regional Manager for Quebec, Mrs Tracey Ann Curtis echoes these claims, arguing, "For patients, adding five years to their lives boils down to the possibility of increasing the number of precious moments they get to spend with their loved ones. It can mean attending their son's graduation or their daughter's wedding, or an opportunity to know their grandchildren, or even realizing projects they would otherwise not have the opportunity to finish. Furthermore, Lymphoma Canada receives regular calls from desperate patients for Lymphoma's Canada assistance concerning BR. This situation is one of first priority. Quebeckers struggling against cancer should have the same fighting chances as other patients in Canada and throughout the world!"

For more information, visit the website www.memeschances.ca as well as the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MemesChances.

About Lymphoma Canada
Lymphoma affects many people, from patients and survivors, family and caregivers, to medical professionals and researchers. Lymphoma Canada connects and empowers this community through education, support and research. Together we are promoting early detection, finding new and better treatments, helping patients access those treatments, learning lymphoma's many causes and finding a cure. For more information about this registered charity, please visit www.lymphoma.ca

SOURCE Lymphoma Canada

For further information: Sylvie Piché, 514-629-1474, presse@memeschances.ca

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