Lenalidomide has been proven to be effective but with a distinct and difficult to manage toxicity profile in the context of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, potentially hampering combination treatment with this drug. We conducted a phase 1-2 study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of six cycles of chlorambucil (7 mg/m2 daily), rituximab (375 mg/m2 cycle 1 and 500 mg/m2 cycles 2-6) and individually-dosed lenalidomide (escalated from 2.5 mg to 10 mg) (induction-I) in first-line treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia unfit for treatment with fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and rituximab. This was followed by 6 months of 10 mg lenalidomide monotherapy (induction-II). Of 53 evaluable patients in phase 2 of the study, 47 (89%) completed induction-I and 36 (68%) completed induction-II. In an intention-to-treat analysis, the overall response rate was 83%. The median progression-free survival was 49 months, after a median follow-up time of 27 months. The 2- and 3-year progression-free survival rates were 58% and 54%, respectively. The corresponding rates for overall survival were 98% and 95%. No tumor lysis syndrome was observed, while tumor flair reaction occurred in five patients (9%, 1 grade 3). The most common hematologic toxicity was grade 3-4 neutropenia, which occurred in 73% of the patients. In conclusion, addition of lenalidomide to a chemotherapy backbone followed by a fixed duration of lenalidomide monotherapy resulted in high remission rates and progression-free survival rates, which seem comparable to those observed with novel drug combinations including novel CD20 monoclonal antibodies or kinase inhibitors. Although lenalidomide-specific toxicity remains a concern, an individualized dose-escalation schedule is feasible and results in an acceptable toxicity profile. EuraCT number: 2010-022294-34.
Kater, A. P.
, van Oers, M. H. J., van Norden, Y., van der Straten, L., Driessen, J., Posthuma, W. F. M., ... HOVON CLL study group (2019). Feasibility and efficacy of addition of individualized-dose lenalidomide to chlorambucil and rituximab as first-line treatment in elderly and FCR-unfit patients with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia
(1), 147-154. https://doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2018.193854