BACKGROUND. Rituximab plus HyperCVAD alternating with High Dose Methotrexate and Cytarabine (R-HCVAD) has been tested in patients with newly diagnosed Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) with promising results (Romaguera et al. JCO 2005). In 2005 the Gruppo Italiano Studio Linfomi (GISL) started a phase II multicenter study investigating clinical activity and toxicity of R-HCVAD in a similar group of patients.

PATIENTS AND METHODS. To be included in the trial patients must have histologically confirmed diagnosis of MCL, be younger than 70 years, have adequate organ function. Chemotherapy consisted of rituximab plus fractionated cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicine, and dexamethasone(considered one cycle) alternating every 21 days with rituximab plus high dose methotrexate-cytarabine (considered one cycle) for a total of eight cycles per the MD Anderson protocol. Patients with baseline PCR positivity for t(11;14) on bone marrow (BM) had to perform PCR assessment of BM at evaluation of response and during follow-up. Only patients achieving partial response (PR) were to be addressed to HDC followed by ASCT.

RESULTS. Thirty-two patients were enrolled. There were 23 males and 9 females; median age was 54 yrs (29 to 66), 80% were in stage IV, 50% and 71% had Gastrointestinal (GI) and BM involvement, respectively; PCR for t(11;14) was positive on BM in 51% of cases. Seven patients did not complete treatment due to toxicity; of these, two patients died (one with septic shock at cycle 1, one with pulmonary aspergillosis at cycle 4), one patient had thrombosis of central line extended to right atrium at cycle 1, one had grade IV skin reaction at cycle 3, one had a severe pneumonia at cycle 1, two had persistent grade IV hematological toxicity after cycle 1 and 5, respectively. All patients had grade III–IV hematological toxicity. Response was assessed in 17 patients with 16 CR and 1 PR. PCR for t(11;14) negativity on BM was achieved in 4/9 patients after cycle 4 and in 8/9 after cycle 8. After a median follow-up of 24 months 1 patient progressed at 6 months and 1 patient relapsed after 26 months of follow-up. Two-year Failure Free Survival (FFS) was 75% (IC95% 53 to 87) and 2 year Disease Free Survival was 93%(IC95% 59–99).

CONCLUSIONS. Though longer follow-up is needed R-HCVAD regimen used in our multicenter setting confirmed high efficacy in terms of response (both clinical and molecular) and FFS. However the regimen was associated to a severe toxicity profile that caused treatment discontinuation in several patients and that may limit its use in the clinical setting.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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