Rituximab and IFN have each demonstrated single-agent activity in patients with low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). A single-arm, multicenter, Phase II trial was conducted to assess the safety and efficacy of combination therapy with rituximab and IFN-alpha-2a in 38 patients with relapsed or refractory, low-grade or follicular, B-cell NHL. IFN-alpha-2a [2.5 or 5 million units (MIU)] was administered s.c., three times weekly for 12 weeks. Starting on the fifth week of treatment, rituximab was administered by i.v. infusion (375 mg/m2) weekly for 4 doses. All 38 patients received four complete infusions of rituximab and were evaluable for efficacy, although 11 patients (29%) did not-receive all 36 injections of IFN. The mean number of IFN-alpha-2a injections was 31 doses; the mean total units received were 141 MIU (maximum, 180 MIU). The study treatment was reasonably well tolerated with no unexpected toxicities stemming from the combination therapy. No grade 4 events were reported. Frequent adverse events during the treatment period included asthenia (35 of 38 patients), chills (31 of 38), fever (30 of 38), headache (28 of 38), nausea (23 of 38), and myalgia (22 of 38). The overall response rate was 45% (17 of 38 patients); 11% had a complete response, and 34% had a partial response. The Kaplan-Meier estimates for the median response duration and the median time to progression in responders are 22.3 and 25.2 months, respectively. Further follow-up is needed to determine whether this treatment combination leads to a significantly longer time to progression than single-agent treatment with rituximab.
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View details for PubMedID 10914705