Four to six cycles of bendamustine/rituximab is the primary regimen of choice for symptomatic, treatment-naive patients with Waldenström macroglobulinemia, especially when rapid control is needed for bulky disease, according to treatment guidelines from a multidisciplinary expert panel.

The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center Myeloma, Amyloidosis, and Dysproteinemia and Lymphoma Disease-Oriented Groups, composed of experts who have collectively treated hundreds of patients with Waldenström macroglobulinemia, updated their recommendations for management of the condition in JAMA Oncology. It’s the first update from the group since 2010. The new treatment approaches are based on clinical and observational studies published or presented through December 2015 and consensus recommendations.

The Mayo group said dexamethasone-rituximab-cyclophosphamide can be an alternative treatment for patients with symptomatic Waldenström macroglobulinemia with a low disease burden. But because of an absence of data, the group said rituximab maintenance therapy is not recommended for routine use outside of clinical trials.

Rituximab monotherapy is contraindicated if patients have symptomatic hyperviscosity; without preemptive plasmapheresis, this treatment should be avoided in those with very high serum IgM. They recommended a prompt start of therapeutic plasma exchange for hyperviscosity syndrome, before starting cytoreductive treatment. But rituximab is indicated when patients have symptomatic mild to moderate anemia, symptomatic cryoglobulinemia (in combination with steroids), or hemolytic anemia that does not respond to corticosteroids.

In cases of first or second relapse, autologous stem cell transplantation should be considered in patients with chemosensitive disease who are eligible for transplant, especially when the first remission duration was less than 2 years. Patients with refractory Waldenström macroglobulinemia should not be offered autologous stem cell transplantation.

Read the full set of recommendations in JAMA Oncology ( 2017 Sep 1;3[9]:1257-65 ).

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