To compare patients with high-risk stage III to IV Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) in the phase III European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer 20012 Intergroup trial (Comparison of Two Combination Chemotherapy Regimens in Treating Patients With Stage III or Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) who were randomly assigned to either doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (ABVD) or to bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone (BEACOPP).
Patients and Methods
Patients with clinical stage III or IV HL, International Prognostic Score of 3 or higher, and age 60 years or younger received ABVD for eight cycles (ABVD8) or escalated-dose BEACOPP (BEACOPPescalated) for four cycles followed by baseline BEACOPP (BEACOPPbaseline) for four cycles (BEACOPP4+4) without radiotherapy. Primary end points were event-free survival (EFS), treatment discontinuation, no complete response (CR) or unconfirmed complete response (CRu) after eight cycles, progression, relapse, or death. Secondary end points were CR rate, overall survival (OS), quality of life, secondary malignancies, and disease-free survival in CR/CRu patients.
Between 2002 and 2010, 549 patients were randomly assigned to ABVD8 (n = 275) or BEACOPP4+4 (n = 274). Other characteristics included median age, 35 years; male, 75%; stage IV, 74%; “B” symptoms, 81%; and International Prognostic Score ≥ 4, 59%. WHO performance status was 0 (34%), 1 (48%), or 2 (17%). Median follow-up was 3.6 years. CR/CRu was 82.5% in both arms. At 4 years, EFS was 63.7% for ABVD8 versus 69.3% for BEACOPP4+4 (hazard ratio [HR], 0.86; 95% CI, 0.64 to 1.15; P = .312); disease-free survival was 85.8% versus 91.0% (HR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.33 to 1.06; P = .076), and OS was 86.7% versus 90.3% (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.42 to 1.21; P = .208). Death as a result of toxicity occurred in six and five patients, early discontinuation (before cycle 5) in 12 and 26 patients, treatment crossovers in five and 10 patients, and secondary malignancies in eight and 10 patients in the ABVD8 and BEACOPP4+4 arms, respectively.
ABVD8 and BEACOPP4+4 resulted in similar EFS and OS in patients with high-risk advanced-stage HL. Because BEACOPP4+4 did not demonstrate a favorable effectiveness or toxicity ratio compared with ABVD8, treatment burden, immediate and late toxicities, and associated costs must be considered before selecting one of these regimens on which to build future treatment strategies.