Background: Mantle-cell lymphoma is generally incurable. Despite high rates of complete response after initial immunochemotherapy followed by autologous stem-cell transplantation, patients have relapses. We investigated whether rituximab maintenance therapy at a dose of 375 mg per square meter of body-surface area administered every 2 months for 3 years after transplantation would prolong the duration of response.
Methods: In a phase 3 trial involving 299 patients who were younger than 66 years of age at diagnosis, we randomly assigned 240 patients to receive rituximab maintenance therapy or to undergo observation after autologous stem-cell transplantation (120 patients per group); 59 patients did not undergo randomization. The primary end point was event-free survival (with an event defined as disease progression, relapse, death, allergy to rituximab, or severe infection) after transplantation among patients who underwent randomization.
Results: After four courses of immunochemotherapy induction (rituximab, dexamethasone, cytarabine, and a platinum derivative [R-DHAP]), the overall response rate was 89%, and the complete response rate 77%. Transplantation was performed in 257 patients. The median follow-up from randomization after transplantation was 50.2 months (range, 46.4 to 54.2). Starting from randomization, the rate of event-free survival at 4 years was 79% (95% confidence interval [CI], 70 to 86) in the rituximab group versus 61% (95% CI, 51 to 70) in the observation group (P=0.001). The rate of progression-free survival at 4 years was 83% (95% CI, 73 to 88) in the rituximab group versus 64% (95% CI, 55 to 73) in the observation group (P<0.001). The rate of overall survival was 89% (95% CI, 81 to 94) in the rituximab group versus 80% (95% CI, 72 to 88) in the observation group (P=0.04). According to a Cox regression unadjusted analysis, the rate of overall survival at 4 years was higher in the rituximab group than in the observation group (hazard ratio for death, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.26 to 0.99; P=0.04).
Conclusions: Rituximab maintenance therapy after transplantation prolonged event-free survival, progression-free survival, and overall survival among patients with mantle-cell lymphoma who were younger than 66 years of age at diagnosis. (Funded by Roche and Amgen; LyMa ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00921414 .).