A Canadian perspective on bendamustine for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

R. Van der Jagt, P. Laneuville, D. MacDonald, D. Stewart, A. Christofides, L.H. Sehn


Despite the success of standard treatments in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), patients are often unable to tolerate aggressive regimens, and they require effective alternatives. Bendamustine is a bifunctional alkylator with unique properties that significantly distinguish it from other agents in its class. In untreated CLL, bendamustine has demonstrated rates of response and progression-free survival (PFS) that are superior to those with chlorambucil, with an acceptable toxicity profile. In the relapsed setting, combination treatment with bendamustine–rituximab (BR) has demonstrated promising activity in high-risk patients such as those refractory to fludarabine or alkylating agents. In untreated patients with indolent NHL and mantle cell lymphoma, BR has demonstrated a PFS significantly longer than that achieved with R-CHOP (rituximab–cyclophosphamide–doxorubicin– vincristine–prednisone), with significantly reduced toxicity. In the relapsed setting, BR has demonstrated rates of response and PFS superior to those with fludarabine–rituximab, with comparable toxicity. In the United States and Europe, bendamustine has been approved for the treatment of CLL and indolent NHL; its approval in Canada is pending and eagerly awaited. Once available, bendamustine will benefit many Canadian patients with NHL and CLL.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3747/co.19.1064

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)