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Blood. 2006 Feb 15;107(4):1292-8. Epub 2005 Sep 20.

Dexamethasone-based regimens versus melphalan-prednisone for elderly multiple myeloma patients ineligible for high-dose therapy.

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  • 1Service des Maladies du Sang, Hôpital Huriez, CHU de Lille, rue Michel Polonovski, 59037 Lille, France.


Dexamethasone alone increases life expectancy in patients with relapsed multiple myeloma (MM); however, no large randomized study has compared dexamethasone and dexamethasone-based regimens with standard melphalan-prednisone in newly diagnosed MM patients ineligible for high-dose therapy. In the Intergroupe Francophone du Myélome (IFM) 95-01 trial, 488 patients aged 65 to 75 years were randomized between 4 regimens of treatment: melphalan-prednisone, dexamethasone alone, melphalan-dexamethasone, and dexamethasone-interferon alpha. Response rates at 6 months (except for complete response) were significantly higher among patients receiving melphalan-dexamethasone, and progression-free survival was significantly better among patients receiving melphalan (P < .001, for both comparisons), but there was no difference in overall survival between the 4 treatment groups. Moreover, the morbidity associated with dexamethasone-based regimens was significantly higher than with melphalan-prednisone, especially for severe pyogenic infections in the melphalan-dexamethasone arm and hemorrhage, severe diabetes, and gastrointestinal and psychiatric complications in the dexamethasone arms. Overall, these results indicated that dexamethasone should not be routinely recommended as first-line treatment in elderly patients with MM. In the context of the IFM 95-01 trial, the standard melphalan-prednisone remained the best treatment choice when efficacy and patient comfort were both considered. These results might be useful in the context of future combinations with innovative drugs.

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