Purpose: The adverse prognosis of CD20 expression in adults with de novo precursor B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) prompted incorporation of monoclonal antibody therapy with rituximab into the intensive chemotherapy regimen hyper-CVAD (fractionated cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin, dexamethasone). Other modifications (irrespective of CD20 expression) included early anthracycline intensification, alterations in number of risk-adapted intrathecal chemotherapy treatments for CNS prophylaxis, additional early and late intensifications, and extension of maintenance phase chemotherapy by 6 months.
Patients and methods: Two hundred eighty-two adolescents and adults with de novo Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-negative precursor B-lineage ALL were treated with standard or modified hyper-CVAD regimens. The latter incorporated standard-dose rituximab if CD20 expression > or = 20%.
Results: The complete remission (CR) rate was 95% with 3-year rates of CR duration (CRD) and survival (OS) of 60% and 50%, respectively. In the younger (age < 60 years) CD20-positive subset, rates of CRD and OS were superior with the modified hyper-CVAD and rituximab regimens compared with standard hyper-CVAD (70% v 38%; P < .001% and 75% v 47%, P = .003). In contrast, rates of CRD and OS for CD20-negative counterparts treated with modified versus standard hyper-CVAD regimens were similar (72% v 68%, P = not significant [NS] and 64% v 65%, P = NS, respectively). Older patients with CD20-positive ALL did not benefit from rituximab-based chemoimmunotherapy (rates of CRD 45% v 50%, P = NS and OS 28% v 32%, P = NS, respectively), related in part to deaths in CR.
Conclusion: The incorporation of rituximab into the hyper-CVAD regimen appears to improve outcome for younger patients with CD20-positive Ph-negative precursor B-lineage ALL.