Rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisolone in patients with newly diagnosed diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a phase 3 comparison of dose intensification with 14-day versus 21-day cycles
BACKGROUND: Dose intensification with a combination of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisolone (CHOP) every 2 weeks improves outcomes in patients older than 60 years with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma compared with CHOP every 3 weeks. We investigated whether this survival benefit from dose intensification persists in the presence of rituximab (R-CHOP) in all age groups. METHODS: Patients (aged ≥18 years) with previously untreated bulky stage IA to stage IV diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in 119 centres in the UK were randomly assigned centrally in a one-to-one ratio, using minimisation, to receive six cycles of R-CHOP every 14 days plus two cycles of rituximab (R-CHOP-14) or eight cycles of R-CHOP every 21 days (R-CHOP-21). R-CHOP-21 was intravenous cyclophosphamide 750 mg/m(2), doxorubicin 50 mg/m(2), vincristine 1·4 mg/m(2) (maximum dose 2 mg), and rituximab 375 mg/m(2) on day 1, and oral prednisolone 40 mg/m(2) on days 1-5, administered every 21 days for a total of eight cycles. R-CHOP-14 was intravenous cyclophosphamide 750 mg/m(2), doxorubicin 50 mg/m(2), vincristine 2 mg, rituximab 375 mg/m(2) on day 1, and oral prednisolone 100 mg on days 1-5, administered every 14 days for six cycles, followed by two further infusions of rituximab 375 mg/m(2) on day 1 every 14 days. The trial was not masked. The primary outcome was overall survival (OS). This study is registered, number ISRCTN 16017947. FINDINGS: 1080 patients were assigned to R-CHOP-21 (n=540) and R-CHOP-14 (n=540). With a median follow-up of 46 months (IQR 35-57), 2-year OS was 82·7% (79·5-85·9) in the R-CHOP-14 group and 80·8% (77·5-84·2) in the R-CHOP-21 (standard) group (hazard ratio 0·90, 95% CI 0·70-1·15; p=0·3763). No significant improvement was noted in 2-year progression-free survival (R-CHOP-14 75·4%, 71·8-79·1, and R-CHOP-21 74·8%, 71·0-78·4; 0·94, 0·76-1·17; p=0·5907). High international prognostic index, poor-prognosis molecular characteristics, and cell of origin were not predictive for benefit from either schedule. Grade 3 or 4 neutropenia was higher in the R-CHOP-21 group (318 [60%] of 534 vs 167 [31%] of 534), with no prophylactic use of recombinant human granulocyte-colony stimulating factor mandated in this group, whereas grade 3 or 4 thrombocytopenia was higher with R-CHOP-14 (50 [9%] vs 28 [5%]); other frequent grade 3 or 4 adverse events were febrile neutropenia (58 [11%] vs 28 [5%]) and infection (125 [23%] vs 96 [18%]). Frequencies of non-haematological adverse events were similar in the R-CHOP-21 and R-CHOP-14 groups. INTERPRETATION: R-CHOP-14 is not superior to R-CHOP-21 chemotherapy for previously untreated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; therefore, R-CHOP-21 remains the standard first-line treatment in patients with this haematological malignancy. No molecular or clinical subgroup benefited from dose intensification in this study. FUNDING: Chugai Pharmaceutical, Cancer Research UK, National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centres scheme at both University College London and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, and Institute of Cancer Research.