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J Clin Oncol. 2005 Apr 1;23(10):2215-23. Epub 2005 Jan 31.

Meta-analysis to evaluate the role of interferon in follicular lymphoma.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, St Bartholomew's Hospital, 45 Little Britain, London, EC1A 7BE, United Kingdom. ama.rohatiner@cancer.org.uk



To determine whether interferon (IFN) -alpha2, when given with or following chemotherapy, influences response rate, remission duration, and survival in newly diagnosed patients with follicular lymphoma.


Ten phase III studies evaluating the role of IFN-alpha2 in 1,922 newly diagnosed patients with follicular lymphoma were analyzed. Updated individual patient data were used to perform meta-analyses for response, survival, and remission duration.


The addition of IFN-alpha2 to initial chemotherapy did not significantly influence response rate. An overall meta-analysis for survival showed a significant difference in favor of IFN-alpha2, but also showed significant heterogeneity between studies. Further analyses were carried out in order to explain this heterogeneity, and to define the circumstances in which IFN-alpha2 prolonged survival. The survival advantage was seen when IFN-alpha2 was given: (1) in conjunction with relatively intensive initial chemotherapy (2P = .00005), (2) at a dose >/= 5 million units (2P = .000002), (3) at a cumulative dose >/= 36 million units per month (2P = .000008), and (4) with chemotherapy rather than as maintenance therapy (P = .004). With regard to remission duration, there was also a significant difference in favor of IFN-alpha2, irrespective of the intensity of chemotherapy used, IFN dose, or whether IFN was given as a maintenance strategy or with chemotherapy.


When given in the context of relatively intensive initial chemotherapy, and at a dose >/= 5 million units (>/= 36 x 10(6) units per month), IFN-alpha2 prolongs survival and remission duration in patients with follicular lymphoma.

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