Send to

Choose Destination
Hematol J. 2001;2(4):272-8.

Increased conventional chemotherapy does not improve survival in multiple myeloma: long-term results of two PETHEMA trials including 914 patients.

Author information

Spanish Cooperative Group for Hematological Malignancies Treatment (PETHEMA), Spanish Society of Hematology. Institut de Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer. Hospital Clínico. Barcelona. Spain.



Melphalan and prednisone (MP) has been the standard treatment for multiple myeloma (MM) for the last 30 years. Combination chemotherapy at conventional doses has not shown a significant prolongation of survival when compared to MP. There are few data comparing conventional chemotherapy at standard doses with conventional treatment at higher doses. We present the long-term outcome of 914 patients from two randomized trials comparing three different dose intensity regimens.


From 1 January, 1985 to 31 December, 1989, 487 patients were randomized between MP (melphalan 9 mg/m(2) p.o. and prednisone 60 mg/m(2) days 1-4) and alternating VCMP (vincristine 1 mg i.v. on day 1, cyclophosphamide 500 mg/m(2) i.v. on day 1, melphalan 6 mg/m(2) p.o. on days 1-4, and prednisone 60 mg/m(2) on days 1-4) and VBAP (vincristine 1 mg i.v. on day 1, BCNU and doxorubicin 30 mg/m(2) i.v. each on day 1, and prednisone 60 mg/m(2) on days 1-4). From 1 January, 1990 to 31 May, 1994, 427 patients were randomized between VCMP/VBAP at the above detailed doses (VCMP/VBAP 'SD') and the same regimen increasing the doses of cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin from 500 to 1200 mg/m(2) and from 30 to 50 mg/m(2), respectively (VCMP/VBAP 'HD').


Increasing dose intensity produced a significantly higher partial response rate (31% vs 45% vs 51% for MP, VCMP/VBAP 'SD', and VCMP/VBAP 'HD', respectively; P < 0.01). However, a significantly early death rate was observed in the HD arm (7.7, 7.5 and 12.1% for MP, VCMP/VBAP 'SD', and VCMP/VBAP 'HD', respectively; P = 0.05). Median duration of response (20 vs 18 vs 19 months for MP, VCMP/VBAP 'SD', and VCMP/VBAP 'HD', respectively; P = NS) and median survival (25 vs 31 vs 29 months for MP, VCMP/VBAP 'SD', and VCMP/VBAP 'HD', respectively; P = NS) were similar in the three groups. MP produced a higher degree of thrombocytopenia than combination chemotherapy at standard (P = 0.002) or high dose (P = 0.01), this leading to a significantly higher dose reduction in the MP arm (P < 0.001 and P = 0.003 for VCMP/VBAP 'SD' and VCMP/VBAP 'HD', respectively).


In these trials the response rate significantly correlated with the regimen intensity. However, no significant differences in response duration and survival were found. This highlights the limited role of conventional chemotherapy in MM and the need for further trials, aimed at determining the impact of new treatment approaches such as high-dose therapy/autotransplantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center