Purpose: The addition of rituximab to standard chemotherapy has significantly improved survival in patients with lymphoma. Recently, maintenance therapy with rituximab has been shown to prevent relapse and provide survival benefits for patients with follicular or mantle cell lymphoma. However, the effects of rituximab in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) remain unclear. Two new studies involving rituximab in the treatment of DLBCL were performed this past year. We performed a meta analysis to evaluate the effects of rituximab maintenance treatment of patients with DLBCL. Methods: Several databases (PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) databases were reviewed for relevant randomized controlled trials published prior to May, 2016. Two reviewers assessed the quality of the included studies and extracted data independently. The hazard ratios (HRs) for time-to-event data and relative risks (RRs) for the other data were pooled and estimated. Results: Totally 5 studies including 1740 patients were eligible for the meta-analysis. Compared to the observation group, patients who received rituximab maintenance therapy had significantly improved event-free survival (EFS) (HR = 0.80, 95% CI: 0.65-0.98) and progressionfree survival (PFS) (HR = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.54-0.94). However, there was no statistically significant difference in overall survival (OS) (HR = 0.66, 95% CI: 0.27-1.29). A subgroup analysis suggested that male patients may benefit from rituximab maintenance therapy with a better EFS (HR = 0.53, 95% CI: 0.34-0.82-), while this advantage was not observed in female patients (HR = 0.99, 95% CI: 0.64-1.52). Conclusions: Rituximab maintenance may provide survival benefits beyond that afforded by first- and second-line chemotherapy alone, especially in male patients. However, maintenance rituximab treatment may cause more adverse events. It is recommended that both survival benefits and adverse events should be taken into consideration when making treatment decisions.
Zhou, X., Ma, T., Zhang, Y., Zhou, N., & Li, J. (2017). Rituximab maintenance therapy for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: A metaanalysis. PLoS ONE, 12(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174648