Maintenance Therapy with Rituxan Prolongs Lymphoma Remission

Posted on May 26th, 2010 by

Among patients with follicular lymphoma who responded to initial treatment with chemotherapy and Rituxan® (rituximab), those who received an additional two years of Rituxan as maintenance therapy remained free of lymphoma progression for longer than patients who did not receive maintenance therapy. The results of this Phase III clinical trial will be presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Rituxan is a targeted therapy that binds to a marker known as CD20 on the surface of B-cells. This binding prompts the immune system to destroy the cell, and may also have direct anticancer effects on the cell. Rituxan is commonly used in the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and more recent studies have shown that it’s also active against chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Maintenance therapy refers to longer-term treatment that is given after patients achieve remission with standard therapy. The goal of maintenance therapy is to prolong remission.

Rituxan maintenance therapy was evaluated in a Phase III clinical trial known as PRIMA. The study enrolled primarily patients with Stage III or IV follicular lymphoma whose disease had been reduced or eliminated by initial treatment with a combination of chemotherapy and Rituxan. Half the study participants were assigned to receive an additional two years of Rituxan as maintenance therapy and half received no maintenance therapy.

Patients have now been followed for a median of just over two years (25 months).

  • Disease progression occurred in 18% of patients given Rituxan maintenance therapy compared with 34% of patients given no maintenance therapy.
  • Patients in the Rituxan maintenance group were more likely to experience infections (37% versus 22% in the no-maintenance group).
  • Quality of life was similar between the two study groups.

These results suggest that maintenance therapy with Rituxan improves progression-free survival among follicular lymphoma patients who have responded to initial treatment. The researchers note, however, that longer follow-up is needed to confirm the benefits of maintenance therapy.

Reference: Salles GA, Seymour JF, Feugier P et al. Rituximab maintenance for 2 years in patients with untreated high tumor burden follicular lymphoma after response to immunochemotherapy. To be presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. June 4-8, 2010. Chicago, IL. Abstract 8004.


Tags: Uncategorized, UNM CC Features

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