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Friday 01 August 2003

Rituximab: new indication. In aggressive non Hodgkin lymphoma: benefits must be confirmed.

By: [No authors listed]

Prescrire Int 2003 Aug;12(66):125-6

The first-line treatment for diffuse large-B-cell non Hodgkin's lymphoma, a highly malignant lymphoma, is CHOP chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide + doxorubicin + vincristine + prednisone). Rituximab, a monoclonal antibody targeting certain B cells, has received a new indication in the treatment of this type of lymphoma, in combination with the CHOP protocol. In late 2002, the only available evaluation data came from one comparative, unblinded trial in patients over 60 years of age. Addition of rituximab to the CHOP protocol increased both the overall two-year survival rate (70% versus 57%), and the two-year event-free survival rate. Other trials are underway. In this trial, 9% of patients had major systemic reactions during the first rituximab infusion (respiratory disturbances, chills, fever and hypotension). These reactions did not occur during subsequent infusions. About 6% of patients had serious cardiac arrhythmias. In practice, the CHOP protocol remains the standard treatment for aggressive non Hodgkin's lymphoma. Pending further information, addition of rituximab to the CHOP protocol may be justified for patients who meet the inclusion criteria used in the only available clinical trial.

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