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J Clin Oncol. 1989 Feb;7(2):168-72.

Pentostatin in the treatment of advanced hairy cell leukemia.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus.


2'-Deoxycoformycin (pentostatin [dCF]), a potent inhibitor of adenosine deaminase (ADA), was administered in a biweekly low-dose (2 to 4 mg/m2) intravenous (IV) schedule to patients with advanced hairy cell leukemia. Twenty-three patients were treated, including 12 patients previously treated by splenectomy and five patients treated with interferon. Twenty-one of 23 patients had objective responses, including 20 who achieved a complete remission (CR). Responses occurred rapidly, with an average time to CR of 5.4 months. Treatment was not continued once CR was achieved, and 15 of 20 patients remain in remission with an average duration of 12.6 months. CRs were achieved in both patients previously treated with interferon (three of five) and patients with marked splenomegaly (three of three). Relapses, when seen, have occurred in the bone marrow alone and the one patient who required retreatment was reinduced into CR. Toxicity has been mild and reversible, with nausea and vomiting, conjunctivitis, and skin rash as the main complications of treatment. dCF is the most effective single agent in the treatment of hairy cell leukemia, inducing a high percentage of CRs in all subgroups. Two multiinstitutional trials are now underway to compare its effectiveness v alpha interferon.

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