• Patients with MCL experiencing late relapse benefit from BTK-inhibitors over immunochemotherapies

  • Overall, immunochemotherapies as second-line are discouraged in the CAR-T cell era

Patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) who experience first relapse/refractoriness can be categorized into early or late progression-of-disease (POD) groups, with a threshold of 24 months from the initial MCL diagnosis. Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors (BTKi) are established standard treatment at first relapse, but their effectiveness as compared to chemoimmunotherapy (CIT) in late-POD patients remains unknown. In this international, observational cohort study, we evaluated outcomes amongst patients at first, late-POD beyond 24 months. Patients treated upfront with BTKi were excluded. The primary objective was progression-free survival from time of second-line therapy (PFS-2) of BTKi versus CIT. After accrual, all patients were prospectively followed-up. Overall, 385 late-POD patients were included from 10 countries. Their median age was 59 (range:19-70) years and 77% were males. Median follow-up from time of first relapse was 53 months (range:12-144). Overall, 114 patients had second-line BTKi, while 271 had CIT, consisting of rituximab-bendamustine (R-B, n=101), R-B and cytarabine (R-BAC, n=70), or other regimens (mostly cyclophosphamide-hydroxydaunorubicin-vincristine-prednisone-CHOP- or platinum-based, n=100). The two groups were balanced for clinicopathological features, and median time to first relapse (48 months for both). Overall, BTKi was associated with significantly prolonged median PFS-2 than CIT [not reached-NR vs 26 months, respectively, P=.0003], and overall survival [NR and 56 months, respectively, P=.03]. Multivariate analyses showed that BTKi was associated with lower risk of death than R-B and other regimens (hazard ratio-HR, 0.41 for R-B, 0.46 for others), but similar to R-BAC. These results may establish BTKi as the preferable second-line approach in BTKi-naïve MCL patients.

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