Background: The combination melphalan-prednisone-thalidomide (MPT) is considered a standard therapy for patients with myeloma who are ineligible for stem-cell transplantation. However, emerging data on the use of lenalidomide and low-dose dexamethasone warrant a prospective comparison of the two approaches. Methods: We randomly assigned 1623 patients to lenalidomide and dexamethasone in 28-day cycles until disease progression (535 patients), to the same combination for 72 weeks (18 cycles; 541 patients), or to MPT for 72 weeks (547 patients). The primary end point was progression-free survival with continuous lenalidomide-dexamethasone versus MPT. Results: The median progression-free survival was 25.5 months with continuous lenalidomide-dexamethasone, 20.7 months with 18 cycles of lenalidomide-dexamethasone, and 21.2 months with MPT (hazard ratio for the risk of progression or death, 0.72 for continuous lenalidomide-dexamethasone vs. MPT and 0.70 for continuous lenalidomide-dexamethasone vs. 18 cycles of lenalidomide-dexamethasone; P<0.001 for both comparisons). Continuous lenalidomide-dexamethasone was superior to MPT for all secondary efficacy end points, including overall survival (at the interim analysis). Overall survival at 4 years was 59% with continuous lenalidomide-dexamethasone, 56% with 18 cycles of lenalidomide-dexamethasone, and 51% with MPT. Grade 3 or 4 adverse events were somewhat less frequent with continuous lenalidomide-dexamethasone than with MPT (70% vs. 78%). As compared with MPT, continuous lenalidomide-dexamethasone was associated with fewer hematologic and neurologic toxic events, a moderate increase in infections, and fewer second primary hematologic cancers. Conclusions: As compared with MPT, continuous lenalidomide-dexamethasone given until disease progression was associated with a significant improvement in progression-free survival, with an overall survival benefit at the interim analysis, among patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma who were ineligible for stem-cell transplantation.
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