Rituximab maintenance therapy: a step forward in follicular lymphoma

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Whilst recent advances in the treatment of follicular lymphoma (FL) have improved the outlook for many patients, relapses still occur and the search continues for strategies to extend the duration of remission without significantly increasing toxicity. One such strategy is the use of rituximab maintenance therapy for patients responding to initial induction. There is now a large body of evidence demonstrating clear benefits of rituximab maintenance versus observation following induction with either rituximab plus chemotherapy (R chemo), chemotherapy alone, or rituximab monotherapy, in both first-line and relapsed/refractory settings. A very important finding is that rituximab maintenance can significantly improve overall survival in FL patients responding to induction with either R-chemo or chemotherapy alone. Also, compared with rituximab retreatment at disease progression, the maintenance approach produces much better complete remission rates and significantly longer continuous remissions and progression-free survival. Various maintenance schedules have been explored, all of which demonstrate clear benefits. However, the optimal dose, schedule, and duration of maintenance therapy still need to be established. Current data indicate that rituximab maintenance can be safely administered for up to 2 years, although assessment of long-term safety requires longer follow-up. From the patient's perspective, rituximab maintenance also prolongs the period in which patients are symptom-free and able to lead a relatively normal daily life. Also, rituximab maintenance may help patients feel they can control their disease, rather than passively waiting for relapse
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)826-833
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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