The outcome of relapsed or refractory (R/R) T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (T-ALL/T-LBL) in adults is poor, with less than 20% of patients surviving at 5 years. Nelarabine is the only drug specifically approved for R/R T-ALL/T-LBL, but the information to support its use is based on limited available data. The aim of this observational phase four study was to provide recent additional data on the efficacy and safety of nelarabine in adults with R/R T-ALL/T-LBL and to evaluate the feasibility and outcome of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (SCT) after salvage with nelarabine therapy. The primary endpoints were overall response rate (ORR) and overall survival (OS). Additional endpoints were safety, SCT rate and post-SCT OS. Between May 2007 and November 2018, 118 patients received nelarabine salvage therapy at 27 Italian hematology sites. The median age was 37 years (range 18-74 years), 73% were male, 77 had a diagnosis of T-ALL and 41 of T-LBL, and 65/118 (55%) had received more than two lines of therapy. The median number of nelarabine cycles was two (range 1-4); 43/118 (36%) patients had complete remission (CR), 16 had partial remission (14%) and 59 (50%) were refractory, with an ORR of 50%. The probability of OS, from the first dose of nelarabine, was 37% at 1 year with a median survival of 8 months. The OS at 1 year was significantly better for the 47 patients (40%) who underwent SCT after nelarabine salvage therapy (58% vs 22%, log-rank P <.001). The probability of OS at 2 and 5 years from SCT was 46% and 38%, respectively. Seventy-five patients (64%) experienced one or more drug-related adverse events (AE). Grade III-IV neurologic toxicities were observed in 9/118 (8%) of cases and thrombocytopenia or/and neutropenia (grade III-IV) were reported in 41% and 43% of cases, respectively. In conclusion, this is one of the largest cohorts of adult patients with R/R T-ALL/T-LBL treated in real life with nelarabine. Taking into account the poor prognosis of this patient population, nelarabine represents an effective option with an ORR of 50% and a CR rate of 36%. In addition, 40% of cases following nelarabine salvage therapy could undergo SCT with an expected OS at 2 and 5 years of 46% and 38%, respectively. The safety profile of nelarabine was acceptable with only 8% of cases showing grade III-IV neurological AE.
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