Recombinant Interferon Alfa-2b Combined With A Regimen Containing Doxorubicin In Patients With Advanced Follicular Lymphoma

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Interferon alfa and cytotoxic drugs have synergistic effects in patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In 1986, we designed a clinical trial to evaluate the benefit of concomitant administration of recombinant interferon alfa with a regimen containing doxorubicin in patients with follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


The trial involved 242 patients with advanced low-grade follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma selected on the basis of clinical, radiographic, and biologic criteria. All patients were treated with a regimen consisting of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, teniposide, and prednisone (CHVP), given monthly for six cycles and then every two months for one year. After randomization, 123 patients also received interferon alfa-2b at a dosage of 5 million units three times weekly for 18 months. The remaining 119 patients received chemotherapy alone.


As compared with the patients treated with CHVP only, the patients treated with CHVP plus interferon alfa had a higher overall rate of response (85 percent vs. 69 percent, P = 0.006), a longer median event-free survival (34 months vs. 19 months, P<0.001), and a higher rate of survival at 3 years (86 percent vs. 69 percent, P = 0.02). Granulocyte toxicity was greater in the patients treated with CHVP plus interferon alfa than in those treated with CHVP alone. There were no treatment-related deaths. Interferon alfa had to be stopped because of toxic effects (fatigue and hepatitis) in 13 patients (11 percent).


The addition of interferon alfa to a regimen containing doxorubicin increased the rate of response, event-free survival, and overall survival in patients with advanced follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, without serious toxicity, although some patients were unable to tolerate the side effects. (N Engl J Med 1993;329:1608-14.)

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