High doses of corticosteroids in combination with rituximab remains an alternative in the treatment in relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) in the current era of targeted therapies. This study retrospectively evaluates the efficacy of an RCD (rituximab, cyclophosphamide, dexamethasone) regimen in the treatment of 51 patients with relapsed CLL (median age, 72 years). Unfavourable prognostic features, such as Rai stage III/IV, unmutated IGHV, del11q, TP53 mutation/deletion, complex karyotype, and bulky lymphadenopathy, were frequent. The overall response or complete remission was of 57 and 7%, respectively, and the median progression-free survival (PFS) was of 12.3 months, median time to next treatment 23.1 months and median overall survival 39.2 months. Significant independent predictors of shorter PFS were TP53 deletion/mutation, advanced Rai stage, and ≥2 previous lines of treatment. The incidence of neutropenia grade ≥3 was of 13%. Serious (CTCAE grade 3-5) infections were found in 20% of patients. Steroid-induced diabetes or diabetes decompensation occurred in 20% patients. Treatment-related adverse events resulted in RCD dose reduction in 35% of patients. In comparison with a historical R-Dex patient group, the treatment response and/or toxicity in our group was largely similar. However, the substantial differences in the baseline clinical characteristics of the groups may affect this comparison. In conclusion, the RCD regimen is an active, time-limited therapeutic strategy for elderly patients with relapsed CLL. Further, the results of our analysis indicate that the addition of cyclophosphamide to the R-Dex regimen maintains a similar efficacy, even after 50% reduction in the dexamethasone dose.
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