Medline ® Abstract for Reference 3
of 'Treatment of relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia'
Addition of rituximab to fludarabine and cyclophosphamide in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: a randomised, open-label, phase 3 trial.
Hallek M, Fischer K, Fingerle-Rowson G, Fink AM, Busch R, Mayer J, Hensel M, Hopfinger G, Hess G, von Grünhagen U, Bergmann M, Catalano J, Zinzani PL, Caligaris-Cappio F, Seymour JF, Berrebi A, Jäger U, Cazin B, Trneny M, Westermann A, Wendtner CM, Eichhorst BF, Staib P, Bühler A, Winkler D, Zenz T, Böttcher S, Ritgen M, Mendila M, Kneba M, Döhner H, Stilgenbauer S, International Group of Investigators, German Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia Study Group
BACKGROUND: On the basis of promising results that were reported in several phase 2 trials, we investigated whether the addition of the monoclonal antibody rituximab to first-line chemotherapy with fludarabine and cyclophosphamide would improve the outcome of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
METHODS: Treatment-naive, physically fit patients (aged 30-81 years) with CD20-positive chronic lymphocytic leukaemia were randomly assigned in a one-to-one ratio to receive six courses of intravenous fludarabine (25 mg/m(2) per day) and cyclophosphamide (250 mg/m(2) per day) for the first 3 days of each 28-day treatment course with or without rituximab (375 mg/m(2) on day 0 of first course, and 500 mg/m(2) on day 1 of second to sixth courses) in 190 centres in 11 countries. Investigators and patients were not masked to the computer-generated treatment assignment. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS). Analysis was by intention to treat. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00281918.
FINDINGS: 408 patients were assigned to fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab (chemoimmunotherapy group) and 409 to fludarabine and cyclophosphamide (chemotherapy group); all patients were analysed. At 3 years after randomisation, 65% of patients in the chemoimmunotherapy group were free of progression compared with 45% in the chemotherapy group (hazard ratio 0·56 [95% CI 0·46-0·69], p<0·0001); 87% were alive versus 83%, respectively (0·67 [0·48-0·92]; p=0·01). Chemoimmunotherapy was more frequently associated with grade 3 and 4 neutropenia (136 [34%]of 404 vs 83 [21%]of 396; p<0·0001) and leucocytopenia (97 [24%]vs 48 [12%]; p<0·0001). Other side-effects, including severe infections, were not increased. There were eight (2%) treatment-related deaths in the chemoimmunotherapy group compared with ten (3%) in the chemotherapy group.
INTERPRETATION: Chemoimmunotherapy with fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab improves progression-free survival and overall survival in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Moreover, the results suggest that the choice of a specific first-line treatment changes the natural course of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
FUNDING: F Hoffmann-La Roche.
Department I of Internal Medicine and Centre for Integrated Oncology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org