Addition of rituximab to standard chemotherapy does not influence response rates in older ...

(San Diego, Calif., December 7, 2003) - Adding rituximab to the standard chemotherapy regimen for lymphoma patients, CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone), does not significantly increase survival in older patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, according to a study presented today during the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH). Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody used to treat certain lymphomas that have lymphocytes with the CD20 receptor.

The research team, headed by Thomas Habermann, M.D., of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, Boston, Mass., concluded that the addition of rituximab to the CHOP regimen as a first-line treatment did not influence overall response rates or early progression in patients.

Overall response rates achieved were 77 percent with R-CHOP versus 76 percent with CHOP alone. Progressive disease during treatment occurred in 6.5 percent of patients on R-CHOP versus 10.5 percent on CHOP alone. With a median follow-up of 2.7 years, the time-to-treatment failure (TTF) favored R-CHOP for induction, but there was no difference in overall survival.

Researchers randomized 632 patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), median age 69 years, to either R-CHOP (318 patients) [administered as cyclophosphamide 750 mg/m2 IV day 1; doxorubicin 50 mg/m2 IV day 1; vincristine 1.4 mg/m2 (maximum dose=2) day 1; prednisone 100 mg/m2 days one to five; rituximab 375 mg/m2 day seven, three and two days before cycles three, five, and seven] or CHOP (314 patients) [two cycles beyond complete remission (total six to eight cycles)]. Researchers further randomized patients who achieved either complete or partial response to maintenance rituximab (207 patients; 375 mg/m2 weekly for four weeks repeated every six months times four) versus observation (208 patients). Patients who were included in the results were 540 for induction (initial) therapy and 348 for maintenance.

Contact: Aimee Frank
American Society of Hematology

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