Combination therapy improves outcomes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia


According to the results of a study published in The Lancet Oncology, patients with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) could benefit from a combination treatment that extends progression-free survival time, overall survival time, and is less toxic than existing therapies.

The combination involved the chemotherapeutic drug fludarabine and the monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab (Campath).

Researchers from the University of Cologne put together a Phase III trial that randomized CLL patients to receive either fludarabine plus alemtuzumab for a total of six 28-day cycles, or to receive fludarabine only for the same length of time.

The combination therapy improved progression free survival by over seven months, and the treatment proved to be better tolerated than existing therapies for older patients as well. The drawback to the results was that the prevalence of serious side effects was 25% higher in the combination group than in the group receiving fludarabine alone.


Elter T et al. Fludarabine plus alemtuzumab versus fludarabine alone in patients with previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: a randomised phase 3 trial. The Lancet Oncology, Early Online Publication. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70242-X

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