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Vials of a drug

NEW YORK—Brentuximab vendotin—not conventional chemotherapy—is the second-line regimen of choice for recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) patients prior to stem cell transplant, according to a speaker at the Lymphoma & Myeloma 2014 congress.

Catherine Diefenbach, MD, of New York University’s Langone Medical Center in New York, argued that conventional chemotherapy, the existing paradigm for first salvage therapy, does not maximize a cure or minimize toxicity, is inconvenient, and is not cost-effective.

She noted that a quarter of HL patients relapse or have a primary refractory diagnosis.

“These are young patients,” Dr Diefenbach said. “Autologous stem cell transplant [ASCT] cures only half of them. There is no other established curative salvage therapy.”

She noted that the median time to progression with relapse after transplant is 3.8 months in patients treated with subsequent therapy, with a median survival of 26 months.

After ASCT, the median progression-free survival with relapse is 1.3 years. And about three-quarters of relapses occur within the first year.

“Achieving a complete response [CR] before ASCT is the most important factor in determining long-term disease-free survival and to maximizing transplant-related benefit,” Dr Diefenbach said. “High overall response rates [ORRs] do not equal high CR. Only one-third of patients achieve a CR [with chemotherapy].”

She said studies have shown that chemotherapy with ICE (ifosfamide, carboplatin, and etoposide) leads to a 3-year event-free survival rate of 22%. Post-ASCT, event-free survival increases to more than 52%.

The overall survival post-ASCT is 44%. The median survival of patients who do not get therapy is 3.7 months. Myelosuppression and deaths are common.

“Conventional chemotherapy fails,” Dr Diefenbach continued. “There is inadequate disease control, unacceptable toxicity, it’s not cost-effective, requires patients to be hospitalized, and there is no clear standard of care.”

On the other hand, brentuximab as first salvage is highly active with minimal adverse events in relapsed HL.

“Rash is the only grade 3-4 toxicity,” Dr Diefenbach said. “There are no significant cytopenias [and] no febrile neutropenia. Growth factor support is not required, and it’s administered outpatient.”

Using brentuximab as second-line therapy results in an ORR of 85.7% and a CR of 50%, she added. And ASCT after brentuximab shows similar successes and toxicities.

Brentuximab followed by ICE leads to high rates of PET normalization, allows successful transplantation of virtually all evaluable patients, and poses no issues with stem cell collection.

Furthermore, studies show a 92% disease-free survival, with minimal toxicity at 10 months of follow-up.

In conclusion, Dr Diefenbach said, “Maximizing disease control prior to ASCT will maximize cure from ASCT. Brentuximab vedotin is a novel agent that leads to a high ORR and high CR rate with low toxicity and outpatient administration. In contrast, conventional chemotherapy fails to provide a high CR rate, has unacceptable toxicity, and there is no single standard of care.”

For an opposing opinion on salvage in HL, see “Speaker adovcates chemo-based salvage in HL.” ht-logo-end


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