Despite promising results with targeted drugs, chemoimmunotherapy with fludarabine, cyclophosphamide (FC), and rituximab (R) remains the standard therapy for fit patients with untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Herein, we present the long-term follow-up of the randomized CLL8 trial reporting safety and efficacy of FC and FCR treatment of 817 treatment-naïve patients with CLL. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS). With a median follow-up of 5.9 years, median PFS were 56.8 and 32.9 months for the FCR and FC group (hazard ratio [HR], 0.59; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.50-0.69, P < .001). Median overall survival (OS) was not reached for the FCR group and was 86.0 months for the FC group (HR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.54-0.89, P = .001). In patients with mutated IGHV (IGHV MUT), FCR improved PFS and OS compared with FC (PFS: HR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.33-0.68, P < .001; OS: HR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.34-1.11, P = .1). This improvement remained applicable for all cytogenetic subgroups other than del(17p). Long-term safety analyses showed that FCR had a higher rate of prolonged neutropenia during the first year after treatment (16.6% vs 8.8%; P = .007). Secondary malignancies including Richter's transformation occurred in 13.1% in the FCR group and in 17.4% in the FC group (P = .1). First-line chemoimmunotherapy with FCR induces long-term remissions and highly relevant improvement in OS in specific genetic subgroups of fit patients with CLL, in particular those with IGHV MUT. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00281918.
© 2016 by The American Society of Hematology.