Background: Despite the advances in the treatment for multiple myeloma (MM) in the past decade, it still remains an incurable haematological disease and the majority of patients still experience relapse. Bortezomib is a novel proteasome inhibitor approved for the treatment of MM patients. Several studies have demonstrated its efficacy as front-line therapy and in relapsed, advanced MM but no data are available as maintenance therapy (MT) in refractory/relapsed MM.

Patients and methods: The aim of this study is to evaluate the safety and the efficacy of bortezomib/dexamethasone MT (1.3 mg/mq bortezomib on days 1 and 15; 20 mg dexamethasone on days 1–2 and 15–16 in a 28-day cycle for a total of 6 cycles) in patients with refractory/relapse MM who responded to salvage therapy.

Results: From October 2004 until April 2008, 40 MM patients have been enrolled. The characteristics of the patients were as follows: 20 males and 20 females, median age was 70 years (IQR:66–75). Median haemoglobin value was 10.85 (IQR:10.175–12.225) and 7 (18%) patients had a renal failure. Skeletal disease was present in 27 (68%) patients. The median number of prior therapies was 2 (1–4). The salvage therapy included bortezomib as single agent or in combination with steroids and/or thalidomide in 12 patients (30%). Median time from diagnosis to the first dose of MT was 41 months (IQR:26–59). The median number of bortezomib infusion was 8 (1–18). After a median follow up of 13 months (IQR:6–31), 10 patients died for PD and 4 patients for infections. The MT improved the quality of response and converted in 1 CR and 4 VGPR the PR after salvage therapy in 5 patients; moreover, we observed a remarkable decreased of M component in 11 patients. The median time to progression was 23 months (95%CI: 8-not reached) with a progression free-survival at 1 year of 69% (95%CI: 50–82). The overall survival at 1 years was 63% and the cumulative incidence of death due to PD adjusted for competitive risk event was 25% (95%IC:10–41). In a univariate analysis the response rate to MT was not significantly affected by age, sex, number or type of previous therapy and haemoglobin concentration. Non-dose-limiting toxicities included neuropathy grade 1 (12 pts), herpes zoster reactivation (2 pts) and gastrointestinal affections (1 pts).

Conclusion: The combination bortezomib/dexamethasone can be safely administered as a maintenance therapy in relapse/refractoy MM. These preliminary data suggest that bortezomib/dexametasone MT can improve remission duration and also quality of response with an acceptable toxicity.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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