At the plenary session of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) on Sunday, June 3, Dr. Mattias Rummel from Germany presented updated results from a phase 3 trial initially presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in 2009. The study compared bendamustine plus rituximab (BR) to CHOP chemotherapy plus rituximab (R-CHOP) in over 500 patients with indolent and mantle cell lymphoma.
Now with a median follow-up period of 45 months, the updated data were consistent with the previously reported findings. Bendamustine plus rituximab (BR) was better tolerated than R-CHOP, with significantly less neutropenia, fewer infections, and no alopecia (hair loss), and was also more effective, reducing the risk of progression roughly two-fold.
Importantly, there was no difference in the rate of transformation to aggressive lymphoma, the rate of secondary malignancies, and the ability to collect stem cells. These data support the design of ongoing and planned cooperative group trials further evaluating the first-line use of BR and BR-based combinations.
In his discussion of the abstract, Dr. Michael Williams from the University of Virginia agreed that the data were promising but cautioned that a peer-reviewed publication of the data remains to be seen.