Prolonged rituximab maintenance in follicular lymphoma patients: long-term results of the SAKK 35/03 randomized trial.

Moccia, Alden A; Taverna, Christian; Schär, Sämi; Vanazzi, Anna; Rondeau, Stéphanie; Hitz, Felicitas; Mingrone, Walter; Pabst, Thomas; Cevreska, Lidija; Del Giglio, Auro; Raats, Johann; Rauch, Daniel; Vorobiof, Daniel A; Lohri, Andreas; Ruegsegger, Céline; Biaggi Rudolf, Christine; Rusterholz, Corinne; Hayoz, Stefanie; Ghielmini, Michele and Zucca, Emanuele (2020). Prolonged rituximab maintenance in follicular lymphoma patients: long-term results of the SAKK 35/03 randomized trial. Blood advances, 4(23), pp. 5951-5957. American Society of Hematology 10.1182/bloodadvances.2020002858

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The Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK) conducted the SAKK 35/03 randomized trial (NCT00227695) to investigate different rituximab monotherapy schedules in patients with follicular lymphoma (FL). Here, we report their long-term treatment outcome. Two-hundred and seventy FL patients were treated with 4 weekly doses of rituximab monotherapy (375 mg/m2); 165 of them, achieving at least a partial response, were randomly assigned to maintenance rituximab (375 mg/m2 every 2 months) on a short-term (4 administrations; n = 82) or a long-term (up to a maximum of 5 years; n = 83) schedule. The primary end point was event-free survival (EFS). At a median follow-up period of 10 years, median EFS was 3.4 years (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.1-5.5) in the short-term arm and 5.3 years (95% CI, 3.5-7.5) in the long-term arm. Using the prespecified log-rank test, this difference is not statistically significant (P = .39). There also was not a statistically significant difference in progression-free survival or overall survival (OS). Median OS was 11.0 years (95% CI, 11.0-NA) in the short-term arm and was not reached in the long-term arm (P = .80). The incidence of second cancers was similar in the 2 arms (9 patients after short-term maintenance and 10 patients after long-term maintenance). No major late toxicities emerged. No significant benefit of prolonged maintenance became evident with longer follow-up. Notably, in symptomatic patients in need of immediate treatment, the 10-year OS rate was 83% (95% CI, 73-89%). These findings indicate that single-agent rituximab may be a valid first-line option for symptomatic patients with advanced FL.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Medical Oncology

UniBE Contributor:

Pabst Müller, Thomas Niklaus and Rauch, Daniel


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




American Society of Hematology




Rebeka Gerber

Date Deposited:

13 Jan 2021 10:58

Last Modified:

13 Jan 2021 10:58

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