December 15th 2010
A number of recent treatment advances in the management of follicular lymphoma (FL), including the introduction of the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab, have effectively shifted the primary therapeutic goal away from palliation and avoidance of toxicity toward the more proactive objective of extending survival. This paper reviews recent practice patterns in the broad context of the published findings from major phase III randomized trials; it documents potential gaps between trial results and actual practice, and the implications of these for continuing education of oncologists. Forty-three US-based community oncologists participated in a cross-sectional case survey during which 40 documented their management of 186 patients with newly diagnosed FL and 133 patients with relapsed FL, all of whom were treated after January 1, 2008. The findings from this initiative indicate that the majority of these patients did not have any major symptoms at presentation. Additionally, tolerance of and response to treatment, regardless of the regimen employed, were similar across the different age groups studied (<65, 65-74, ≥75 years). Therapies selected by the physicians surveyed in both the up-front and the relapsed settings broadly corresponded to the evidence-based published literature and were supported by treatment guidelines. In addition, a change in the proportional use of bendamustine/rituximab (BR) in the up-front treatment of FL from 2008 to 2010 was observed, suggesting that community oncologists are rapidly incorporating pivotal clinical trial results when deciding on individual patient management strategies.