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Examining How Early Treatment Impacts CLL Outcomes

June 17, 2020

In patients with relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia, early venetoclax discontinuation was associated with suboptimal outcomes but venetoclax interruption was not, according to a poster from the 2020 ASCO Virtual Scientific Program.  

“Venetoclax + rituximab has a manageable safety profile and improves survival in patients with relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but discontinuation/interruption is frequent,” researchers wrote. 

Investigators used data from the phase 3 MURANO study to analyze the effect of early venetoclax interruption and discontinuation on patient outcomes. 

Among 194 patients assigned 2 years of therapy with venetoclax and rituximab, 54 patients, or 28%, discontinued venetoclax early. According to the poster abstract, adverse events prompted early discontinuation in 29 patients after a median duration of 11.3 months, and disease progression led to early discontinuation in 12 patients after a median 17.1 months.

Compared with patients who completed therapy, patients who discontinued venetoclax early for reasons other than adverse events or disease progression had inferior progression-free survival, researchers reported. The risk of a progression-free survival or an overall survival event was significantly reduced with greater cumulative exposure to venetoclax.  

Treatment interruption due to adverse events occurred in 134 patients, or 69%, according to the study, and lasted a median 9 days. Treatment interruption had no impact on progression-free survival or an overall survival, according to the abstract. 

“These data highlight the importance of effective control of toxicity to realize the full benefit of venetoclax + rituximab treatment,” researchers wrote. 

Jolynn Tumolo


Mato AR, Sharman JP, Biondo J, et al. Impact of premature venetoclax (Ven) discontinuation/interruption on outcomes in relapsed/refractory (R/R) chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): phase III MURANO study results. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 38:2020 (suppl; abstr 8028).

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