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Sunday 01 June 2003

First-line treatment with brief-duration chemotherapy plus rituximab in elderly patients with intermediate-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: phase II trial.

By: Hainsworth JD, Litchy S, Lamb MR, Rodriguez GI, Scroggin C Jr, Greco FA.

Clin Lymphoma 2003 Jun;4(1):36-42

This study was designed to evaluate the feasibility, toxicity, and efficacy of rituximab added to the VNCOP-B (etoposide/mitoxantrone/cyclophosphamide/vincristine/prednisone/bleomycin) combination regimen for the treatment of elderly patients with large B-cell lymphoma. Previously untreated patients > or = 65 years of age with stage II, III, or IV large B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were treated with a modified VNCOP-B regimen with weekly chemotherapy for 8 weeks. In addition, patients received rituximab 375 mg/m2 intravenously on weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8. All patients received prophylactic granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) or granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) during the 8 weeks of treatment. Between August 1999 and February 2002, 41 patients entered this multicenter phase II trial. The median age was 74 years, and 54% of patients had high-risk tumors (age-adjusted International Prognostic Index scores of 2 or 3). Sixty-eight percent of patients completed the 8 weeks of therapy. Overall response rate was 66%; actuarial progression-free survival rate at 2 years was 59%, with a 57% actuarial overall 2-year survival rate. Patients > or = 75 years of age had similar treatment outcomes compared with younger patients. Toxicity with this regimen was predominantly related to chemotherapy; rituximab was well tolerated. Grade 3/4 neutropenia occurred in 83% of patients even with routine use of prophylactic G-CSF or GM-CSF. Treatment-related death occurred in 4 patients (10%). VNCOP-B plus rituximab is efficacious, producing 2-year progression-free survival rates that compare favorably with those of other active regimens in this patient group. Hematologic toxicity was increased compared with previous reports with VNCOP-B alone, as evidenced by the treatment-related mortality rate of 10% in the present study. Differences in toxicity may have been caused by the addition of rituximab, the modified etoposide schedule, or the differences in patient characteristics. This regimen provides a treatment option for elderly patients who are not considered candidates for standard CHOP/rituximab chemotherapy.

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