No Need for Maintenance Rituxan in Asymptomatic Follicular Lymphoma

Patients who are not suffering from symptoms of nonbulky follicular lymphoma are better off waiting until symptoms occur before beginning chemotherapy instead of undergoing maintenance Rituxan.

Patients who are not suffering from symptoms of nonbulky follicular lymphoma are better off waiting until symptoms occur before beginning chemotherapy instead of undergoing maintenance Rituxan (rituximab) to delay therapy, scientists reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Researchers looked at whether giving an extended scheduled dosing of Rituxan would stave off symptoms and the need for chemotherapy. They also looked at whether quality of life and anxiety would be lessened if remission was prolonged with therapy instead of having multiple remissions and relapses.

The RESORT study followed 274 follicular lymphoma patients who responded to initial Rituxan therapy. Patients were then randomized to receive either maintenance Rituxan or retreatment of the drug once relapse occurred. The median time for the disease to progress was 3.6 years with retreatment and 3.9 years with maintenance. Although maintenance therapy slightly delayed the cancer from getting worse and time to when the patient needed chemotherapy, anxiety and quality of life were no different in the two arms.

In addition, patients on maintenance Rituxan receive more treatment with higher risk of side effects. Brad S. Kahl, MD, of the University of Wisconsin and lead investigator of the study, also noted the increased cost of maintenance treatment with little additional benefit.