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Monday 19 February 2007

Use of rituximab in patients with follicular lymphoma.

By: Boue DR.

Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2007 Feb;19(1):38-49

Advanced stage symptomatic follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is rarely, if ever, curable with conventional chemotherapy. Patients classically experience a pattern of remission and relapse, eventually dying of their disease. Data from a number of large-scale randomised phase III trials, both as first-line therapy and in relapsed/refractory patients, comparing rituximab plus chemotherapy with chemotherapy alone indicate that the addition of rituximab to a number of different chemotherapy regimens increases response rates and progression-free survival (PFS), without significantly increasing toxicity. Moreover, in four trials, three in first-line and one in relapsed disease, a significant overall survival benefit has been observed for rituximab combination therapy. These data indicate that patients with follicular NHL who require therapy should now receive rituximab plus chemotherapy as first-line treatment. Additionally, a strong case remains for offering rituximab-based therapy to patients with relapsed disease who have not previously received it, and in those who have previously responded well to this agent. Rituximab maintenance therapy has also been shown to significantly prolong PFS after rituximab in combination with chemotherapy in patients with relapsed disease and in newly diagnosed patients who have not received rituximab during induction, and the benefit of maintenance after immunochemotherapy in relapsed patients may yet be mirrored by ongoing studies in the first-line setting. This overview considers the most recently published clinical trials of rituximab and their potential effect on clinical practice in the treatment of follicular NHL.

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