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J Clin Oncol. 2010 Oct 10;28(29):4480-4. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.28.4786. Epub 2010 Aug 9.

Long-term follow-up of patients with follicular lymphoma receiving single-agent rituximab at two different schedules in trial SAKK 35/98.

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  • 1Istituto Europeo di Oncologia, Divisione di Ematologia, Milan, Italy.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

We report the long-term results of a randomized clinical trial comparing induction therapy with once per week for 4 weeks single-agent rituximab alone versus induction followed by 4 cycles of maintenance therapy every 2 months in patients with follicular lymphoma.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

Patients (prior chemotherapy 138; chemotherapy-naive 64) received single-agent rituximab and if nonprogressive, were randomly assigned to no further treatment (observation) or four additional doses of rituximab given at 2-month intervals (prolonged exposure).

RESULTS:

At a median follow-up of 9.5 years and with all living patients having been observed for at least 5 years, the median event-free survival (EFS) was 13 months for the observation and 24 months for the prolonged exposure arm (P < .001). In the observation arm, patients without events at 8 years were 5%, while in the prolonged exposure arm they were 27%. Of previously untreated patients receiving prolonged treatment after responding to rituximab induction, at 8 years 45% were still without event. The only favorable prognostic factor for EFS in a multivariate Cox regression was the prolonged rituximab schedule (hazard ratio, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.39 to 0.88; P = .009), whereas being chemotherapy naive, presenting with stage lower than IV, and showing a VV phenotype at position 158 of the Fc-gamma RIIIA receptor were not of independent prognostic value. No long-term toxicity potentially due to rituximab was observed.

CONCLUSION:

An important proportion of patients experienced long-term remission after prolonged exposure to rituximab, particularly if they had no prior treatment and responded to rituximab induction.

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