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Thalidomide-dexamethasone compared with melphalan-prednisolone in elderly patients with multiple myeloma

Heinz Ludwig, Roman Hajek, Elena Tóthová, Johannes Drach, Zdenek Adam, Boris Labar, Miklós Egyed, Ivan Spicka, Heinz Gisslinger, Richard Greil, Ingrid Kuhn, Niklas Zojer and Axel Hinke

Abstract

We compared thalidomide-dexamethasone (TD) with melphalan-prednisolone (MP) in 289 elderly patients with multiple myeloma (MM). Patients received either thalidomide 200 mg plus dexamethasone 40 mg, days 1 to 4 and 15 to 18 on even cycles and days 1 to 4 on odd cycles, during a 28-day cycle or to melphalan 0.25 mg/kg and prednisolone 2 mg/kg orally on days 1 to 4 during a 28- to 42-day cycle. Patients achieving stable disease or better were randomly assigned to maintenance therapy with either thalidomide 100 mg daily and 3 MU interferon α-2b thrice weekly or to 3 MU interferon α-2b thrice weekly only. TD resulted in a higher proportion of complete and very good remissions (26% vs 13%; P = .006) and overall responses (68% vs 50%; P = .002) compared with MP. Time to progression (21.2 vs 29.1 months; P = .2), and progression-free survival was similar (16.7 vs 20.7 months; P = .1), but overall survival was significantly shorter in the TD group (41.5 vs 49.4 months; P = .024). Toxicity was higher with TD, particularly in patients older than 75 years with poor performance status. The study was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov as NCT00205751.

  • Submitted July 18, 2008.
  • Accepted October 13, 2008.
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