BACKGROUND: Although the safety and efficacy of the Hyper-CVAD/MTX-Ara-C regimen in hematologic malignancies has been well established by the large clinical trials developed at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, the outcome with this regimen in patients in China has not been determined. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and potential toxicity of this regimen in acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and highly aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in a single center in China.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between September 2004 and July 2006,36 patients with ALL or highly aggressive lymphoma were treated with the Hyper-CVAD/MTX-Ara-C regimen at our institution. Median age was 35 years (range 14 to 60 years), and 23 patients (64%) were male. All patients are comprised of 19 previously untreated cases and 17 refractory/relapsed ones. Among the 28 patients with ALL, B-cell disease was present in 82%, T-cell disease in 18%, and Ph-positive ALL was present in 18%, refractory/relapsed disease in 46%. Among the 8 patients with highly aggressive NHL, lymphoblastic lymphoma was present in 63%, Burkitt’s lymphoma was in 37% and refractory/relapsed disease in 50%. CNS involvement was present in 8% at diagnosis. Treatment consisted of four cycles of Hyper-CVAD alternating with four cycles of high-dose methotrexate (MTX) and cytarabine therapy, together with intrathecal CNS prophylaxis and aggressive supportive care with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, transfusion and antibiotic prophylaxis therapy. Maintenance therapy according to cytogenetics and immunophenotype in partial patients included 2 years of treatment with mercaptopurine, MTX, vincristine, and prednisone (POMP).

RESULTS: The median follow-up was 7 months (range 1+ to 23+ months). Of the previously untreated 19 patients, seventeen patients (89.47%) achieved complete remission (CR) and no patients died during induction therapy. Of the refractory/relapsed 17 patients, seven cases (41.48%) achieved CR. Remarkably, the CR rate of the patients with Ph-positive ALL was 60.00%(3/5), and Burkitt’s lymphoma 66.67%(2/3). The median finished courses during the dose-intensive phase were 5 (range 1 to 8), and the median time to delivery of all eight courses was 10 months. The estimated 5-year survival and 5-year CR rates were not concluded so far. The incidence of CNS relapse was low (5%). Myelosuppression-associated complications including documented infections, fever of unknown origin, hemorrhage were the more frequent side effects. Other significant side effects included neurotoxicity, renal and hepatic toxicities, fatigue, mucositis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, and G-CSF therapy-associated bone aches.

CONCLUSION: The preliminary experience from our single center in China demonstrated that Hyper-CVAD/MTX-Ara-C, a dose-intensive regimen with much higher CR is superior to our previous regimens, even in poor-risk Ph-positive ALL, and highly aggressive lymphomas such as lymphoblastic and Burkitt’s lymphoma, and refractory/relapsed ALL/lymphoma. Our data also showed that this regimen is less toxic and well tolerated in patients. Due to the aggressive supportive care, the expense with this regimen is more expensive than conventional chemotherapy. Long-term treatment benefits, such as disease-free survival rates and severe side effects need further investigation in a well-designed, multiple-center study in China with more eligible patients entering onto the study.

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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