Rituximab-EPOCH, an effective salvage therapy for relapsed, refractory or transformed B-cell lymphomas: results of a phase II study

M Jermann, L M Jost, Ch Taverna, E Jacky, H P Honegger, D C Betticher, F Egli, Th Kroner, R A Stahel
Annals of Oncology: Official Journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology 2004, 15 (3): 511-6

BACKGROUND: Relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell and mantle-cell lymphoma have a poor prognosis. The EPOCH regimen and rituximab monotherapy have demonstrated activity as salvage therapies. Because of their non-overlapping toxicity, we evaluated their combination as salvage therapy in a phase II study.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with relapsed or refractory CD20-positive large B-cell and mantle-cell lymphoma were offered treatment with rituximab 375 mg/m2 intravenously (i.v.) on day 1, doxorubicin 15 mg/m2 as a continuous i.v. infusion on days 2-4, etoposide 65 mg/m2 as a continuous i.v. infusion on days 2-4, vincristine 0.5 mg as a continuous i.v. infusion on days 2-4, cyclophosphamide 750 mg/m2 i.v. on day 5 and prednisone 60 mg/m2 orally on days 1-14.

RESULTS: Fifty patients, with a median age of 56 years (range 23-72), entered the study. Twenty-five had primary diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, 18 transformed large B-cell lymphoma and seven mantle-cell lymphoma. The median number of prior chemotherapy regimens was 1.7 (range one to four). The median number of treatment cycles was four (range one to six). Possible treatment-related death occurred in two patients. Objective responses were obtained in 68% of patients (28% complete responses, 40% partial responses). Nineteen patients received consolidating high-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem-cell transplantation. The median follow-up was 33 months. Three patients developed a secondary myelodysplastic syndrome. The median overall survival was 17.9 months; the projected overall survival at 1, 2 and 3 years was 66, 42 and 35%, respectively. The median event-free survival was 11.8 months; the projected event-free survival at 1, 2 and 3 years was 50, 30 and 26%, respectively.

CONCLUSION: The rituximab-EPOCH regimen is effective and well tolerated, even in extensively pretreated patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma and mantle-cell lymphoma.

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