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Extended Rituxan Improves Outcomes in Lymphoma

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The extended use of Rituxan (rituximab) improves outcomes among elderly patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) who have a poor prognosis. These results were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Rituximab is an agent that is specifically targeted against immune cells that become cancerous among patients with B-cell lymphomas, such as DLBCL. Although rituximab is part of the standard therapeutic approach of treatment for B-cell lymphomas, its optimal scheduling as part of treatment continues to be evaluated in different patient populations.

Researchers recently evaluated data to explore different lengths of treatment including rituximab for elderly patients with DLBCL who had a poor prognosis. Patients were treated with standard chemotherapy plus rituximab.

Data was taken from two clinical trials: both trials treated patients with the same chemotherapy plus rituximab combination, but one trial continued rituximab with another eight 2-week applications.

· Overall, good-prognosis patients did not achieve a significantly greater benefit from the addition of extended rituximab therapy.

· Poor-prognosis patients, however, had improved overall survival at 3 years when treated with extended rituximab therapy (80% for those treated with extended rituximab versus 67% for those without the extended rituximab).

The researchers concluded that extended treatment with rituximab significantly improves survival at 3 years among elderly patients with poor-prognosis DLBCL.

Reference: Pfreundschuh M, Poeschel V, Zeynalova S, et al. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (II): extended rituximab exposure time in the SMARTE-R-CHOP-14 trial of the German high-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma study group. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2014;32 (36): 4127-4133.