Comparison of melphalan and prednisone with vincristine, carmustine, melphalan, cyclophosphamide, and prednisone in the treatment of multiple myeloma: results of Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Study E2479

Cancer. 1997 Apr 15;79(8):1561-7.


Background: The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performed a Phase III comparison of melphalan and prednisone (MP) with vincristine, carmustine (BCNU), melphalan, cyclophosphamide, and prednisone (VBMCP) in an attempt to determine which of these regimens should be the standard treatment for multiple myeloma.

Methods: Four hundred seventy-nine previously untreated patients with multiple myeloma from 23 ECOG institutions were enrolled. Treatment, assigned by randomization, consisted of either 4-week cycles of MP or 5-week cycles of VBCMP. After 1 year of induction therapy, patients received MP or VBMCP maintenance therapy at 6- and 8- week intervals, respectively, until relapse. Patients who experienced treatment failure with MP were eligible for crossover therapy with VBMCP.

Results: Objective responses were obtained for 51% of patients receiving MP, as compared with 72% of patients receiving VBMCP (P < 0.001). Response duration was also longer with VBMCP (median, 18 months with MP vs. 24 months with VBMCP; P = 0.007). Overall survival was not significantly different between MP and VBMCP (P = 0.30). The 5-year survival for VBMCP was 26%, as compared with 19% for MP. VBMCP was associated with more nausea, peripheral nerve toxicity, alopecia, and neutropenia, but the infection rate was equal to that observed with MP. Both regimens were generally well tolerated. The main exception was that elderly patients who were confined to bed had a higher risk of death with VBMCP. The two regimens produced a similar incidence of late secondary myelodysplastic syndrome and acute leukemia. Crossover VBMCP for patients failing with MP was only minimally effective, with an objective response rate of 20% and median survival of 11 months after crossover.

Conclusions: VBMCP is more effective than MP in producing and sustaining remission of multiple myeloma. It is associated with a marginal survival advantage and an apparently greater chance of surviving 5 years for patients who can tolerate moderately intensive combination chemotherapy. Cancer 1997;79:1561-7. 1997 American Cancer Society.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carmustine / administration & dosage
  • Carmustine / adverse effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Cyclophosphamide / adverse effects
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melphalan / administration & dosage
  • Melphalan / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Myeloma / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / epidemiology
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Prednisone / adverse effects
  • Remission Induction
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage
  • Vincristine / adverse effects


  • Vincristine
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Melphalan
  • Carmustine
  • Prednisone

Supplementary concepts

  • AP protocol 2
  • M-2 protocol