Medline: 3282078

Journal of the National Cancer Institute 80(5): 369-373, 1988.

Randomized study of the duration of treatment with interferon alfa-2b in patients with hairy cell leukemia.

Golomb HM, Ratain MJ, Fefer A, et al.


Several previous studies have demonstrated that both partially purified and recombinant alpha-interferons (alpha-IFNs) have high response rates in advanced hairy cell leukemia. However, the optimal dose and duration of therapy have not yet been defined. In this study, 90 patients were randomized after 12 months of IFN alfa-2b therapy with a standard dose of 2 X 10(6) U/m2 sc three times weekly to either no further therapy or an additional 6 months of therapy (18 mo total). There was no significant difference in the peripheral blood cell counts between the two groups (when analyzed) dating from the end of IFN therapy rather than from the time of randomization. Eighteen evaluable patients relapsed and were re-treated with IFN: 11 in the no-further-therapy group and 7 in the treated group. No patient was resistant to re-treatment with IFN. There was a significantly greater incidence of fatigue in the treated group (44% vs. 21%; P = 0.02) during the first 6 postrandomization months. We conclude that the duration of IFN therapy does not influence the clinical course after therapy is discontinued, but responses are maintained while patients receive therapy. However, because of a high incidence of fatigue with prolonged therapy and the ability to reinduce a second response, we recommend that IFN therapy be discontinued after 12 months in asymptomatic patients.

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