Maintenance Treatment With Oral Lenalidomide After Stem-Cell Transplant Improves Multiple Myeloma Survival, Reduces Risk Of Disease Progression

Friday, May 13, 2011

Roswell Park Investigator Dr. Philip McCarthy Presents Data at the 13th International Myeloma Workshop

BUFFALO, NY — Updated data from a National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trial conducted by the Cancer and Leukemia Group (CALGB) was presented May 5 at the 13th International Myeloma Workshop in Paris, France. The phase III study evaluated the benefits of continuous, or maintenance, treatment with lenalidomide (Revlimid) following an autologous stem-cell transplant in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients and found that lenalidomide delays time to disease progression and improves overall survival compared to placebo. Maintenance therapy is an ongoing treatment given after patients achieve response with initial therapy to try to prolong that response.

As of April 2011, patients receiving continuous lenalidomide therapy demonstrated an overall survival rate of 90% at more than two years following transplant, compared to 83% for patients receiving placebo (unadjusted p<0.018). The updated results also further demonstrated that lenalidomide maintenance therapy resulted in longer remissions, delaying disease progression to a median of four years.

“This study answers the important question regarding continuous therapy, and the new survival data further validate long-term maintenance with lenalidomide as an important, and effective, treatment option for patients with multiple myeloma,” said Principal Investigator Philip McCarthy, Jr., MD, Professor of Oncology and Director of the Blood & Marrow Transplant Program at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Roswell Park). “The updated results from the CALGB trial are important and welcome news for patients, especially because so many will relapse or have progressive disease even after a stem-cell transplant.”

Lenalidomide is an oral drug that is already used to treat myeloma that recurs or persists despite prior therapy. Multiple myeloma occurs when a type of immune cell, called a plasma cell, becomes too numerous and crowds out healthy blood cells in the bone marrow, causing pain, and gradually damaging the bones and other body organs. An estimated 20,580 people were diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the United States in 2010.

Multiple myeloma is treated with high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem-cell transplantation — a procedure in which some of a patient’s stem cells are removed before therapy and returned after treatment to rebuild the patient’s immune system. However, more than 90 percent of patients eventually experience a cancer relapse. Newly diagnosed patients will find state-of-the-art care and promising new therapies at Roswell Park.

The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Roswell Park, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit Roswell Park’s website at, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email

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Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager