On May 30, 2014, at the 50th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) I had the pleasure of presenting updated, preliminary results from the multi-center, national cooperative group CALGB 50803 phase II trial of lenalidomide plus rituximab in patients with previously untreated follicular lymphoma. This trial represents an important step as we move away from traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy towards a future with novel, better-tolerated regimens for treatment of patients with follicular lymphoma.
Patients in this trial received oral lenalidomide on days 1-21 of each 28-day cycle for a total of twelve cycles plus four weekly infusions of rituximab during cycle 1 followed by four additional infusions at the start of cycles 4, 6, 8, and 10. The primary objective was to measure the patient’s complete response rate. Overall, we found that the regimen was well tolerated, with very low rates of infection or other significant adverse events. Preliminary data from patients evaluable for complete response suggests that over 90% of patients responded, including roughly 70% complete responses. At two years, 89% of patients continued to respond. These efficacy data are consistent with what is typically seen with cytotoxic chemotherapy-based regimens and they support further evaluation of lenalidomide plus rituximab compared to chemotherapy in an ongoing phase III trial.