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ASH 2015: Adding Rituximab to Standard Chemotherapy in CD20-Positive Philadelphia Chromosome–Negative BCP-ALL Improves Event-Free Survival

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Key Points

  • After a median follow-up of 30 months, patients who received rituximab had a lower incidence of relapse compared with those who did not (18% in the rituximab arm vs 30.5% in the control arm).
  • Furthermore, 65% of patients in the rituximab arm achieved 2-year event-free survival compared with 52% of those who did not receive the drug.

The results of the randomized Graall-R 2005 study presented by Maury et al at the 57th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting found a new use for rituximab (Rituxan) in acute leukemia (Abstract 1).

CD20 is present in 30% to 50% of patients with B-cell precursor acute lymphocytic leukemia (BCP-ALL), a type of leukemia that is common in children but also affects adults.

Results of standard therapy in adults are poor compared with results achieved in children.

Study Findings

This multicenter, randomized clinical trial aimed to evaluate the benefit of adding rituximab to standard chemotherapy for patients aged 18 to 59 with newly diagnosed CD20-positive Philadelphia chromosome–negative BCP-ALL.

Investigators randomized 220 patients to receive chemotherapy with or without rituximab, for a total of 16 to 18 infusions.

After a median follow-up of 30 months, patients who received rituximab had a lower incidence of relapse than those who did not (18% in the rituximab arm vs 30.5% in the control arm). Furthermore, 65% of patients in the rituximab arm achieved 2-year event-free survival compared with 52% of those who did not receive the drug.

The study suggests that adding rituximab to standard therapy improves event-free survival for patients with BCP-ALL. 

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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