From the Journals

Anthracyclines, bendamustine are options for grade 3A follicular lymphoma



While optimal treatment for grade 3A follicular lymphoma remains in question, either anthracycline-based chemotherapy or bendamustine appear to be preferable to cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone (CVP), results of a recent analysis suggest.

Time to progression with anthracycline-based chemotherapy was superior to that of CVP in the retrospective, multicenter study.

At the same time, clinical outcomes were comparable between anthracycline-based chemotherapy and bendamustine, according to Nirav N. Shah, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and his coinvestigators.

“Both remain appropriate frontline options for this patient population,” Dr. Shah and his colleagues wrote in Clinical Lymphoma, Myeloma & Leukemia.

Frontline therapy for follicular lymphoma has evolved, and recently shifted toward bendamustine-based chemotherapy regimens in light of two large randomized trials, according to the investigators. However, optimal therapy – specifically for grade 3A follicular lymphoma – has been debated for more than 20 years, they added.

“While some approach it as an aggressive malignancy, others treat it as an indolent lymphoma,” they wrote.

Accordingly, Dr. Shah and his colleagues sought to evaluate treatment outcomes with these regimens in 103 advanced stage 3/4 follicular lymphoma patients from six centers seen over a 10-year period.

Of those patients, 65 had received anthracycline-based chemotherapy, 30 received bendamustine, and 8 received CVP. All received either rituximab or ofatumumab in combination with the chemotherapy, and about one-third went on to receive maintenance treatment with one of those two anti-CD20 antibodies.

The proportion of patients not experiencing disease progression at 24 months from the initiation of treatment was significantly different between arms, at 72% for those receiving anthracyclines, 79% for bendamustine, and 50% for CVP (P = .01).

Patients who received CVP had a significantly poorer time-to-progression outcomes versus anthracycline-based chemotherapy, an adjusted analysis showed (hazard ratio, 3.22; 95% confidence interval, 1.26-8.25; P = .01), while by contrast, there was no significant difference between bendamustine and anthracyclines on this endpoint.

Progression-free survival was likewise worse for CVP compared with anthracycline-based chemotherapy, but there was no significant difference in overall survival for either CVP or bendamustine compared with anthracycline-based chemotherapy, the investigators said.

The 5-year overall survival was estimated to be 82% for anthracycline-based chemotherapy, 74% for bendamustine, and 58% for CVP (P = .23).

Optimal treatment of grade 3A follicular lymphoma remains controversial despite these findings, the investigators noted.

“Unfortunately, this specific histology was excluded from pivotal trials comparing anthracycline-based chemotherapy to bendamustine, leaving the question of optimal frontline treatment unanswered in this subset,” they wrote.

The situation could change with a subgroup analysis of GALLIUM, which might provide some prospective data for this histology. Beyond that, it would be helpful to have prospective, randomized studies specifically enrolling grade 3A disease, Dr. Shah and his coauthors wrote.

Dr. Shah reported disclosures related to Exelixis, Oncosec, Geron, Jazz, Kite, Juno, and Lentigen Technology. Coauthors provided disclosures related to Sanofi-Genzyme, Celgene, Takeda, Otsuka, Spectrum, Merck, and Astellas, among others.

SOURCE: Shah NN et al. Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk. 2019 Feb;19(2):95-102.

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