Patients with relapsed/refractory (R/R) chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) may benefit from salvage chemoimmunotherapy (CIT). To explore further the use of CIT in the pre-novel agent era, ECOG-ACRIN undertook a phase 2 trial (E2903) for R/R CLL utilizing pentostatin, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab (PCR) followed by a consolidation course of alemtuzumab. This trial enrolled 102 patients with a median age of 64 years. Treatment consisted of 6 cycles of PCR followed by alemtuzumab for either 4 or 18 weeks depending on the initial response to PCR. The overall response after PCR (complete remission, CR, nodular partial remission, nPR, and partial remission, PR) was 55%. Major responses (CR or nPR) were achieved in 6%. The median overall survival (OS) and the median progression-free survival were 28 and 12 months, respectively. The most serious nonlethal adverse events were myelosuppression, febrile neutropenia, fatigue, nausea, and hyponatremia. PCR is an effective and well-tolerated nucleoside-based regimen for heavily pretreated CLL patients with R/R disease. The addition of alemtuzumab to CLL patients with a minor response (PR) or stable disease did not result in a significant number of higher responses (CR or nPR) nor an improvement in OS.
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