Abbreviated chemotherapy with fludarabine followed by tositumomab and iodine I 131 tositumomab for untreated follicular lymphoma.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of a sequential chemotherapy plus radioimmunotherapy (RIT) regimen in previously untreated follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Thirty-five patients received an abbreviated course (three cycles) of fludarabine followed 6 to 8 weeks later by tositumomab and iodine I 131 tositumomab. RESULTS: After fludarabine, 31 (89%) of 35 patients responded, with three (9%) of 31 patients achieving a complete response (CR). After the full regimen of fludarabine and iodine I 131 tositumomab, all 35 patients responded; 30 (86%) of 35 patients achieved CR, and five (14%) of 35 achieved partial response. After a median follow-up of 58 months, the median progression-free survival (PFS) had not been reached (95% CI, 27 months to not reached), but it will be at least 48 months. The 5-year estimated PFS rate is 60%. Baseline Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index (FLIPI) was significantly associated (P = .003) with PFS. Five of six patients with more than 25% bone marrow involvement at baseline achieved adequate bone marrow cytoreduction to receive standard-dose iodine I 131 tositumomab. Ten (77%) of 13 patients with baseline bone marrow Bcl-2 positivity demonstrated molecular remissions at month 12. Toxicities were manageable and principally hematologic. Two (6%) of 35 patients developed human antimurine antibodies (HAMA) after RIT. CONCLUSION: Use of abbreviated fludarabine before iodine I 131 tositumomab can reduce bone marrow involvement, when needed, to allow the use of RIT and can suppress HAMA responses. This sequential treatment regimen is highly effective as front-line therapy for follicular lymphoma, particularly for low- or intermediate-risk FLIPI patients.