These Chemo Treatments Make a Great Team

Fludara and Campath combined improve survival in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Teaming up with a partner makes any difficult task easier. When therapies team up even the difficult task of dealing with an incurable disease is made easier.

Researchers from the University of Cologne have discovered that combining chemo drugs Fludara (fludarabine) and Campath (alemtuzumab) prolonged life and improved survival of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients. This combination outperformed a single-drug therapy and could become another treatment option for CLL patients who have previously been treated.

"Ask if a combination chemotherapy offers a better outlook."

CLL is the most common type of leukemia and close to 15,000 new cases of CLL are diagnosed each year. It is considered incurable based on current therapies available.

When combined, dosages of Fludara and Campath could be lowered than doses required for only one. CLL patients would not need to take additional chemo drugs in addition to Fludara and Campath thus reducing negative side effects.

According to comments made by lead author Thomas Elter, from the University of Cologne, this regimen is also more convenient - patients would only need to take this combination three times a month rather than the usual regimen of three times a week for 12 weeks.

To test the effectiveness of this combination, 335 patients were split into two groups - 168 were treated with both drugs,  and 167 received  Fludara alone. Progression-free survival was close to 24 months with the combined therapy, compared to 16.5 months for patients receiving only Fludara. Overall survival was also better in the combined treatment group.

Older patients and those with more advanced disease also had improved results with the combined treatment.

According to the study, because CLL affects such a diverse range of individuals, it is hard for oncologists to come up with a standard treatment. While patients using the combined therapy had more serious side effects than the group using Fludara alone, that did not deter researchers from recommending the dual treatment as an option for patients with previously-treated CLL.

This new combination not only gives oncologists one more possible CLL treatment, it also opens up the possibility for the development of new treatments that combine other existing drugs.

The study findings were published Online First in The Lancet Oncology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 7, 2011
Last Updated:
November 8, 2012