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Friday 01 February 2002

The role of rituximab and chemotherapy in aggressive B-cell lymphoma: a preliminary report of dose-adjusted EPOCH-R.

By: Wilson WH, Gutierrez M, O'Connor P, Frankel S, Jaffe E, Chabner BA, Grossbard ML.

Semin Oncol 2002 Feb;29(1 Suppl 2):41-7

Accumulating evidence suggests that the ability to activate apoptotic pathways may be an important determinant of chemotherapy sensitivity and presents a potentially important new therapeutic strategy. Monoclonal antibodies against the CD20 antigen directly induce apoptosis and may serve to modulate the threshold for chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. Rituximab (Rituxan; Genentech, Inc, South San Francisco, CA, and IDEC Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, CA), a monoclonal antibody against CD20, was combined with dose-adjusted EPOCH (infusional etoposide/vincristine/doxorubicin/bolus cyclophosphamide/prednisone) chemotherapy and tested in 38 untreated or relapsed poor-prognosis aggressive lymphomas. Twenty-three patients were untreated. Of these patients, all had large B-cell histologies, a median age of 52 years, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status > or = 2 in 30%, and high-intermediate or high International Prognostic Index scores in 61%. Fifteen patients had relapsed or refractory lymphomas. These patients had received a median of two (range, one to four) prior regimens, 67% had aggressive histologies, and 60% had high-intermediate or high International Prognostic Index scores. Complete remissions were achieved in 85% and 64% of untreated and previously treated patients, respectively; additionally 42% of patients with disease refractory before therapy achieved complete remission. At a median follow-up of 12 months, progression-free and overall survival in the previously untreated group was 85% and 79%, respectively, and no patient in complete remission has relapsed. These results suggest that rituximab may modulate the sensitivity of B-cell lymphomas to chemotherapy.

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