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The role of maintenance thalidomide therapy in multiple myeloma: MRC Myeloma IX results and meta-analysis

Gareth J. Morgan, Walter M. Gregory, Faith E. Davies, Sue E. Bell, Alexander J. Szubert, Julia M. Brown, Nuria N. Coy, Gordon Cook, Nigel H. Russell, Claudius Rudin, Huw Roddie, Mark T. Drayson, Roger G. Owen, Fiona M. Ross, Graham H. Jackson, J. Anthony Child, on behalf of the National Cancer Research Institute Haematological Oncology Clinical Studies Group

Abstract

Thalidomide maintenance has the potential to modulate residual multiple myeloma (MM) after an initial response. This trial compared the effect of thalidomide maintenance and no maintenance on progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in MM patients. After intensive or nonintensive induction therapy, 820 newly diagnosed MM patients were randomized to open-label thalidomide maintenance until progression, or no maintenance. Interphase FISH (iFISH) analysis was performed at study entry. Median PFS was significantly longer with thalidomide maintenance (log-rank P < .001). Median OS was similar between regimens (log-rank P = .40). Patients with favorable iFISH showed improved PFS (P = .004) and a trend toward a late survival benefit. Patients with adverse iFISH receiving thalidomide showed no significant PFS benefit and worse OS (P = .009). Effective relapse therapy enhanced survival after progression, translating into a significant OS benefit. Meta-analysis of this and other studies show a significant late OS benefit (P < .001, 7-year difference hazard ratio = 12.3; 95% confidence interval, 5.5-19.0). Thalidomide maintenance significantly improves PFS and can be associated with improved OS. iFISH testing is important in assessing the clinical impact of maintenance therapy. Overview analysis demonstrated that thalidomide maintenance was associated with a significant late OS benefit. This trial was registered at www.isrctn.org as #ISRCTN68454111.

  • Submitted June 6, 2011.
  • Accepted October 11, 2011.
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