Abstract

Background: Rituximab in combination with chemotherapy improves overall survival (OS) compared to chemotherapy alone when used for induction therapy, for patients with newly diagnosed and relapsed indolent lymphoma. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have demonstrated that maintenance treatment with rituximab (MR) prolongs progression free survival but evidence of effect on OS is lacking.

Objectives: to evaluate the effects of MR on OS in patients with follicular lymphoma (FL).

Methods: Systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs that assessed MR for patients with B cell FL. Electronic databases of medical journals and ongoing trials were searched. Relative risks (RR) for dichotomous outcomes with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were pooled using Mantel-Haenszel method. Treatment effect on OS was estimated as hazard ratios (HRs) using methods described by Parmar et al. (

Stat Med
1998
;
17
:
2815
–34
)

Results: 266 titles and abstracts were screened. Five trials fulfilled inclusion criteria (table). 1053 adult patients were randomized between the years 1998–2004. The median follow up ranged between 26 to 41 months. The minimal requirement for inclusion was either a stable disease after induction (3 trials) or partial remission (2 trials). Overall survival: Four trials (895 patients) were included in analysis of OS. The Hainsworth trial (

JCO
2006
;
23
:
1088
–1095
) was omitted for analysis of OS due to design issues (MR versus retreatment at progression). Patients treated with MR had a significantly better OS compared to observation (HR 0.53, 95% CI 0.39, 0.73). Adverse events: Patients treated with MR had more infectious related adverse effects compared to observation (RR 1.99, 95% CI 1.21, 3.27).

Conclusions: MR improves OS compared to observation in patients with refractory/relapsed FL who responded to induction therapy. Pooled HR of OS with MR treatment versus observation for patients with FL. n number of events; N number of patients evaluated.

Rituximab as maintenance therapy for patients with follicular lymphoma Overall survival

Rituximab as maintenance therapy for patients with follicular lymphoma Overall survival

Description of included trials

Trial IDNo. randomized patientsType of lymphomaInduction therapyRituximab maintenance protocol
*Separate analysis was possible for patients with FL. Y years, SLL small lymphocytic lymphoma, MCL mantle cell lymphoma, CVP cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone, FC fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, FCM fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, mitoxantrone, CHOP cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone 
Hainsworth 2005 90 Previously treated FL, SLL Rituximab Weekly for 4 weeks every 6 months for 2y 
Hochster 2005 304 Untreated FL, SLL* CVP Weekly for 4 weeks every 6 months for 2y 
Hochster 2007 69 Untreated FL, SLL FC Same as above 
Forstpointner 2006 195 Relapsed FL, MCL* FCM+/− rituximab Weekly for 4 weeks, at 3 and 9 months 
Ghielmini 2004 151 Newly diagnosed and relapsed FL Rituximab A single infusion every 2 months for four doses 
van Oers 2006 334 Relapsed FL CHOP+/− rituximab A single infusion every 3 months for 2y 
Trial IDNo. randomized patientsType of lymphomaInduction therapyRituximab maintenance protocol
*Separate analysis was possible for patients with FL. Y years, SLL small lymphocytic lymphoma, MCL mantle cell lymphoma, CVP cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone, FC fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, FCM fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, mitoxantrone, CHOP cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone 
Hainsworth 2005 90 Previously treated FL, SLL Rituximab Weekly for 4 weeks every 6 months for 2y 
Hochster 2005 304 Untreated FL, SLL* CVP Weekly for 4 weeks every 6 months for 2y 
Hochster 2007 69 Untreated FL, SLL FC Same as above 
Forstpointner 2006 195 Relapsed FL, MCL* FCM+/− rituximab Weekly for 4 weeks, at 3 and 9 months 
Ghielmini 2004 151 Newly diagnosed and relapsed FL Rituximab A single infusion every 2 months for four doses 
van Oers 2006 334 Relapsed FL CHOP+/− rituximab A single infusion every 3 months for 2y 

Author notes

Disclosure:Consultancy: Dr. Ghielmini has given consultancy services for Roche. Research Funding: Dr. Gheilmini has research funding from Roche. Dr. Dreyling received research funding for investigator-inititated (academic) trials from Roche. Honoraria Information: Dr. Dreyling received speaker honorarium from Roche.