A loading dose/continuous infusion schedule of fludarabine phosphate in chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell
Using a loading dose/continuous infusion schedule, fludarabine phosphate was administered to 51 patients with previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). All patients had evidence of active disease, and the majority had advanced Rai stages. Of the 42 patients assessable for response, 22 (52%) achieved a partial response, five (12%) had stable disease, and 15 (36%) progressed. Thirteen of the 22 responders improved their Rai stages with fludarabine therapy, including six patients who achieved stage 0. Response rates for pretreatment stages III and IV were 60% and 53%, respectively. Patients with final Rai stages 0 to II had better survival than those with stages III and IV. Patients who had undergone splenectomy before starting therapy were more likely to respond. Myelosuppression was the primary toxicity and did not appear to be cumulative. Severe leukopenia and thrombocytopenia, although infrequent, were associated with several deaths in the early cycles of treatment. Nonhematologic toxicity was mild with no serious neurotoxicity noted. Infections were common with 22 minor, 18 major, and 10 fatal episodes. Fludarabine phosphate by this alternative dosing schedule is effective in refractory advanced CLL and is well tolerated by the majority of patients.