The role of rituximab and chemotherapy in aggressive b-cell lymphoma: A preliminary report of dose-adjusted EPOCH-R

Wyndham H. Wilson, Martin Gutierrez, Paula O'Connor, Stanley Frankel, Elaine Jaffe, Bruce A. Chabner, Michael L. Grossbard

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73 Scopus citations


Accumulating evidence suggests that the ability to activate apoptotic pathways may be an important determinant of chemotherapy sensitivity and presents a potentially important new therapeutic strategy. Monoclonal antibodies against the CD20 antigen directiy induce apoptosis and may serve to modulate the threshold for chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. Rituximab (Rituxan; Genentech, Inc, South San Francisco, CA, and IDEC Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, CA), a monoclonal antibody against CD20, was combined with dose-adjusted EPOCH (infusional etoposide/vincristine/doxorubicin/bolus cyclophosphamide/prednisone) chemotherapy and tested in 38 untreated or relapsed poor-prognosis aggressive lymphomas. Twenty-three patients were untreated. Of these patients, all had large B-cell histologies, a median age of 52 years, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status ≥ 2 in 30%, and high-intermediate or high International Prognostic Index scores in 61%. Fifteen patients had relapsed or refractory lymphomas. These patients had received a median of two (range, one to four) prior regimens, 67% had aggressive histologies, and 60% had high-intermediate or high International Prognostic Index scores. Complete remissions were achieved in 85% and 64% of untreated and previously treated patients, respectively; additionally 42% of patients with disease refractory before therapy achieved complete remission. At a median follow-up of 12 months, progression-free and overall survival in the previously untreated group was 85% and 79%, respectively, and no patient in complete remission has relapsed. These results suggest that rituximab may modulate the sensitivity of B-cell lymphomas to chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Oncology
Issue number1 SUPPL. 2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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