Indexed on: 16 Mar '05Published on: 16 Mar '05Published in: Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
Fludarabine and cyclophosphamide (FC), which are active in treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), are synergistic with the monoclonal antibody rituximab in vitro in lymphoma cell lines. A chemoimmunotherapy program consisting of fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab (FCR) was developed with the goal of increasing the complete remission (CR) rate in previously untreated CLL patients to >/= 50%.We conducted a single-arm study of FCR as initial therapy in 224 patients with progressive or advanced CLL. Flow cytometry was used to measure residual disease. Results and safety were compared with a previous regimen using FC.The median age was 58 years; 75 patients (33%) had Rai stage III to IV disease. The CR rate was 70% (95% CI, 63% to 76%), the nodular partial remission rate was 10%, and the partial remission rate was 15%, for an overall response rate of 95% (95% CI, 92% to 98%). Two thirds of patients evaluated with flow cytometry had less than 1% CD5- and CD19-coexpressing cells in bone marrow after therapy. Grade 3 to 4 neutropenia occurred during 52% of courses; major and minor infections were seen in 2.6% and 10% of courses, respectively. One third of the 224 patients had >/= one episode of infection, and 10% had a fever of unknown origin.FCR produced a high CR rate in previously untreated CLL. Most patients had no detectable disease on flow cytometry at the end of therapy. Time to treatment failure analysis showed that 69% of patients were projected to be failure free at 4 years (95% CI, 57% to 81%).