Addition of rituximab to standard chemotherapy for children with high grade, B-cell cancer prolongs event-free survival and overall survival, according to the results of a new study.
Researchers from the European intergroup for childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma and oncology group, recently published data from a Phase III, international, randomised clinical trial in patients under 18 years of age who had a high-risk, mature B-cell lymphoma (stage III) or acute leukaemia.
The trial compared the addition of six doses of rituximab to standard lymphoma malins B (LMB) chemotherapy against LMB therapy alone in 328 patients.
The primary endpoint was event-free survival which was defined in several ways including relapse, progressive disease, second cancer or death from any cause. After a median follow-up of 39.9 months, there were ten events in the rituximab group compared with 28 in the LMB group and the event-free survival rate was 93.9% in patients given rituximab compared to 82.3% in the LMB group. In total, eight patients treated with rituximab died compared with 20 in the LMB group.
However, although more effective, treatment with rituximab resulted in 37.7% of patients experiencing serious adverse effects, mainly febrile neutropenia, compared with 32.7% in the LMB group.
Minard-Colin V et al. Rituximab for high-risk, mature B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in children. N Engl J Med 2020;382:2207-19.