In a nutshell
This study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of gemcitabine (Gemzar) plus bendamustine (Treanda) in patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) that has come back or stopped responding to treatment. This study found that this combination was well-tolerated and effective for these patients.
Immunotherapy remains a mainstay treatment option for patients with HL that has come back or stopped responding to treatment. However, this treatment may not be effective on its own and can be associated with significant side effects.
Combination chemotherapy is often given before a patient undergoes a stem cell transplant. Gemcitabine is commonly used with other chemotherapy agents. Bendamustine has also been used alone or with other anti-cancer drugs in patients with recurrent HL. It is unclear if combining these two agents is safe and effective for patients with non-responsive HL.
Methods & findings
This study had 26 patients with recurrent or non-responding HL. On average, patients already had an average of 4 prior lines of treatment. In this study, patients received up to 6 cycles of gemcitabine plus bendamustine (GB). Patients were followed for an average of 15 months.
Overall, 73% of all patients responded to treatment. 7 patients had no signs of cancer after treatment (complete response). On average, patients survived for 11 months without tumor growth or spread. 100% of patients who had a stem cell transplant after treatment were still alive 2 years later. Among these patients, 67% were still alive without tumor growth or spread.
During the first phase of the study, 3 patients went on to have a stem cell transplant. During the second phase of the study, this number was 7 patients. Among all patients, 15 patients did not have a transplant after study treatment.
Overall, 8% (2 patients) developed serious pneumonia. 50% (13 patients) had seriously low white blood cell counts. 15% (4 patients) had seriously low platelet counts (cells involved in blood clotting).
The bottom line
This study found that the GB regimen was well-tolerated and effective for patients with HL that came back or stopped responding to treatment. The authors suggest that this treatment may help patients proceed to a stem cell transplant.
The fine print
This study was a small phase 1/2 trial. Larger studies are needed to confirm these results.
Published By :
Dec 10, 2019
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