ROBUST: A Phase III Study of Lenalidomide Plus R-CHOP Versus Placebo Plus R-CHOP in Previously Untreated Patients With ABC-Type Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma

J Clin Oncol. 2021 Apr 20;39(12):1317-1328. doi: 10.1200/JCO.20.01366. Epub 2021 Feb 23.


Purpose: Patients with the activated B-cell-like (ABC) subtype of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) historically showed inferior survival with standard rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP). Phase II studies demonstrated that adding the immunomodulatory agent lenalidomide to R-CHOP improved outcomes in ABC-type DLBCL. The goal of the global, phase III ROBUST study was to compare lenalidomide plus R-CHOP (R2-CHOP) with placebo/R-CHOP in previously untreated, ABC-type DLBCL.

Methods: Histology and cell-of-origin type were prospectively analyzed by central pathology prior to random assignment and study treatment. Patients with ABC-DLBCL received lenalidomide oral 15 mg/d, days 1-14/21 plus standard R-CHOP21 versus placebo/R-CHOP21 for six cycles. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS) per independent central radiology review.

Results: A total of 570 patients with ABC-DLBCL (n = 285 per arm) were stratified by International Prognostic Index score, age, and bulky disease, and randomly assigned to R2-CHOP or placebo/R-CHOP. Baseline demographics were similar between arms. Most patients completed six cycles of treatment: 74% R2-CHOP and 84% placebo/R-CHOP. The most common grade 3/4 adverse events for R2-CHOP versus placebo/R-CHOP were neutropenia (60% v 48%), anemia (22% v 14%), thrombocytopenia (17% v 11%), and leukopenia (14% v 15%). The primary end point of PFS was not met, with a hazard ratio of 0.85 (95% CI, 0.63 to 1.14) and P = .29; median PFS has not been reached for either arm. PFS trends favoring R2-CHOP over placebo/R-CHOP were seen in patients with higher-risk disease.

Conclusion: ROBUST is the first DLBCL phase III study to integrate biomarker-driven identification of eligible ABC patients. Although the ROBUST trial did not meet the primary end point of PFS in all patients, the safety profile of R2-CHOP was consistent with individual treatments with no new safety signals.

Trial registration: NCT02285062.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Cyclophosphamide / adverse effects
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lenalidomide / administration & dosage*
  • Lenalidomide / adverse effects
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Prednisone / adverse effects
  • Rituximab / administration & dosage
  • Rituximab / adverse effects
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage
  • Vincristine / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • R-CHOP protocol
  • Rituximab
  • Vincristine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Lenalidomide
  • Prednisone

Associated data

  • EudraCT/2013-004054-21