Mantle cell lymphoma is a cancer that often goes through phases of remission and relapse. During remission, doctors will continue to monitor a person for signs of relapse. They may also use certain medications to prolong their remission.

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system helps to protect the body from infection.

There are two types of lymphocytes, or white blood cells – B cells and T cells. MCL affects the B cells. It causes abnormal B lymphocytes to collect in the lymph nodes or organs. This can then lead to tumors and cause issues with the lymphatic system or the affected organ.

Every year, around 1 in every 200,000 people receive a diagnosis of MCL.

This article looks at how remission affects people with MCL.

It discusses remission, how remission typically manifests in MCL, what people with MCL can expect during remission, and the outlook for those with this condition.

Older female smelling a flower by a windowShare on Pinterest
Iuliia Burmistrova/Getty Images

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), remission is when symptoms of cancer decrease or disappear.

This can happen even though there are still cancer cells in a person’s body.

Remission can sometimes signify that a person’s cancer has completely gone.

Learn more about what it means to be in remission from cancer.

Unlike other types of cancers, MCL typically involves phases of relapse and remission.

How long remission lasts in people with MCL varies from person to person.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), the median progression-free period for people with MCL
is 20 months.

Can mantle cell lymphoma be cured?

There is some debate over whether MCL is curable, but research is ongoing, and clinical trials are available at some hospitals.

A 2018 review suggests that current treatment options cannot cure MCL. However, there is some evidence to show that radiation therapy may be able to cure early-stage MCL in some people.

A study from 2023 also suggests that personalized treatment approaches using chemotherapy and stem cell therapy may provide more positive long-term outlooks and possibly a cure for people with MCL.

Learn whether non-Hodgkin lymphoma is curable.

Remission care can vary from person to person. However, generally, people can expect the following:

Maintenance therapy

Maintenance therapy aims to prolong a person’s remission for as long as possible.

Some people receive a strong form of chemotherapy for MCL called cytarabine. If this treatment goes well, doctors may also recommend a stem cell transplant. Following these treatments, people may receive an injection of the targeted therapy rituximab every 2 months for up to 3 years.

Other people with MCL receive a weaker form of chemotherapy that involves taking rituximab plus CHOP (R-CHOP) or rituximab plus bendamustine. Afterward, they may receive an injection of rituximab every 2 months for 2 to 3 years.

Learn more about chemotherapy.

Follow-up care

People with MCL will also receive follow-up care while they are in remission to:

  • ensure they are recovering well from treatment
  • check for signs of MCL relapse
  • check for symptoms of MCL that develop months or years after treatment

Tests and scans

During the follow-up care period, doctors may recommend tests and scans to determine whether someone’s MCL is relapsing.

Follow-up testing might involve blood tests, computed tomography (CT) scans, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

Learn more about blood tests for cancer.

MCL is a serious and potentially life threatening condition.

MCL and MCL treatment can cause a range of complications and side effects, such as:

According to the LLS, MCL has a median survival rate of about 5–7 years.

Learn more about the survival rates for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

MCL is a rare cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Many people with MCL go through periods of remission and relapse. It is unclear whether there is any cure for MCL.

When someone is in remission from MCL, the treatment goal is to maintain this phase for as long as possible. Maintenance therapy typically involves rituximab injections every 2 months for up to 3 years.

Cancer resources

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for cancer, visit our dedicated hub.

Was this helpful?