Lancet 2013 Apr 20;381(9873):1203-10. Epub 2013 Feb 20.
Medizinische Klinik IV, Hospital of the Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany.
Background: Rituximab plus chemotherapy, most often CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone), is the first-line standard of care for patients with advanced indolent lymphoma, and for elderly patients with mantle-cell lymphoma. Bendamustine plus rituximab is effective for relapsed or refractory disease. We compared bendamustine plus rituximab with CHOP plus rituximab (R-CHOP) as first-line treatment for patients with indolent and mantle-cell lymphomas.
Methods: We did a prospective, multicentre, randomised, open-label, non-inferiority trial at 81 centres in Germany between Sept 1, 2003, and Aug 31, 2008. Patients aged 18 years or older with a WHO performance status of 2 or less were eligible if they had newly diagnosed stage III or IV indolent or mantle-cell lymphoma. Patients were stratified by histological lymphoma subtype, then randomly assigned according to a prespecified randomisation list to receive either intravenous bendamustine (90 mg/m(2) on days 1 and 2 of a 4-week cycle) or CHOP (cycles every 3 weeks of cyclophosphamide 750 mg/m(2), doxorubicin 50 mg/m(2), and vincristine 1.4 mg/m(2) on day 1, and prednisone 100 mg/day for 5 days) for a maximum of six cycles. Patients in both groups received rituximab 375 mg/m(2) on day 1 of each cycle. Patients and treating physicians were not masked to treatment allocation. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival, with a non-inferiority margin of 10%. Analysis was per protocol. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00991211, and the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices of Germany, BfArM 4021335.
Findings: 274 patients were assigned to bendamustine plus rituximab (261 assessed) and 275 to R-CHOP (253 assessed). At median follow-up of 45 months (IQR 25-57), median progression-free survival was significantly longer in the bendamustine plus rituximab group than in the R-CHOP group (69.5 months [26.1 to not yet reached] vs 31.2 months [15.2-65.7]; hazard ratio 0.58, 95% CI 0.44-0.74; p<0.0001). Bendamustine plus rituximab was better tolerated than R-CHOP, with lower rates of alopecia (0 patients vs 245 (100%) of 245 patients who recieved ≥3 cycles; p<0.0001), haematological toxicity (77 [30%] vs 173 [68%]; p<0.0001), infections (96 [37%] vs 127 [50%]); p=0.0025), peripheral neuropathy (18 [7%] vs 73 [29%]; p<0.0001), and stomatitis (16 [6%] vs 47 [19%]; p<0.0001). Erythematous skin reactions were more common in patients in the bendamustine plus rituximab group than in those in the R-CHOP group (42 [16%] vs 23 [9%]; p=0.024).
Interpretation: In patients with previously untreated indolent lymphoma, bendamustine plus rituximab can be considered as a preferred first-line treatment approach to R-CHOP because of increased progression-free survival and fewer toxic effects.
Funding: Roche Pharma AG, Ribosepharm/Mundipharma GmbH.