Using FDG-PET (fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography) imaging to gauge treatment response after the first two rounds of ABVD therapy helps to determine which patients with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma should be switched to a more aggressive eBEACOPP regimen, according to the results of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) S0816 study.

In this large U.S. trial of PET scanning to guide treatment approach in people with high-risk stage II or stage III-IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma, progression-free survival at 2 years for those with early interim positive PET scans was 64%, which is much higher than the expected progression-free survival of 15%-30%, according to Dr. Oliver Press, a SWOG member at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the lead author of study, which was published ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (2016 April 11. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.63.1119).

In addition, just 20% of patients in the trial were exposed to eBEACOPP, which usually results in infertility, can cause sustained heart or lung damage, and increases the risk of secondary cancers.

Researchers recruited 358 Hodgkin’s patients to the trial and were able to evaluate 331 of them. All trial volunteers were given two rounds of standard ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine) chemotherapy, followed by a PET scan. If the scan was negative, patients received four more cycles of ABVD. If the scan was positive, with a Deauville score of 4-5, they were advised to switch to eBEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone), a seven-drug combination used in Europe. Of 60 patients with positive interim PET scans, 11 patients declined to switch, and 49 switched as planned to six cycles of eBEACOPP.

With a median follow-up of nearly 40 months, the Kaplan-Meier estimate for 2-year overall survival was 98%, and the 2-year estimate for progression-free survival was 79%. In the subset of patients who had positive PET scans after two cycles of ABVD, the 2-year estimate for progression-free survival was 64%, more than double the expected remission rate.

At least seven phase II and III cooperative group studies are underway testing this approach in advanced-stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the researchers wrote. “We hope that in the future, molecular biomarker studies at initial diagnosis, or the combination of biomarkers and molecular imaging, may define patients who require more intense therapy with eBEACOPP or other novel targeted drugs with greater accuracy than is achievable with current technology.”

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the David and Patricia Giuliani Family Foundation, the Lymphoma Foundation, the Adam Spector Fund for Hodgkin Research, and the Ernest & Jeanette Dicker Charitable Foundation.

On Twitter @maryjodales


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