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J Clin Oncol. 2010 Jul 1;28(19):3160-6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2009.26.1610. Epub 2010 Jun 1.

Phase III study of the value of thalidomide added to melphalan plus prednisone in elderly patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma: the HOVON 49 Study.

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  • 1Haga Hospital, Leyweg 275, the Hague, the Netherlands.



For several decades, the treatment of elderly patients with multiple myeloma (MM) has consisted of melphalan and prednisone (MP). The Dutch-Belgium Hemato-Oncology Cooperative Group (HOVON) investigated the efficacy of thalidomide added to MP (MP-T) in a randomized phase III trial. The objective of this study was to investigate the efficacy, toxicity, and effects on quality of life of MP-T.


A randomized phase III trial compared standard MP with MP-T (thalidomide 200 mg/d) in newly diagnosed patients with multiple myeloma older than age 65 years. Maintenance therapy with thalidomide 50 mg/d was administered to patients after MP-T until relapse. The primary end point was event-free survival (EFS); response rate, overall survival (OS), and progression-free survival (PFS) were secondary end points.


An intent-to-treat analysis of 333 evaluable patients showed significantly higher response rates in MP-T-treated patients compared with MP-treated patients a response (> or = partial response: 66% v 45%, respectively; P < .001; and > or = very good partial response [VGPR]: 27% v 10%, respectively; P < .001). EFS was 13 months with MP-T versus 9 months with MP (P < .001). OS was 40 months with MP-T versus 31 months with MP (P = .05).


This study demonstrates that thalidomide improves the response rate and VGPR in elderly patients with newly diagnosed MM. MP-T also results in a better EFS, PFS, and OS.

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