Ruxolitinib rechallenge in resistant or intolerant patients with myelofibrosis: Frequency, therapeutic effects, and impact on outcome

Francesca Palandri, Mario Tiribelli, Massimo Breccia, Daniela Bartoletti, Elena M. Elli, Giulia Benevolo, Bruno Martino, Francesco Cavazzini, Alessia Tieghi, Alessandra Iurlo, Elisabetta Abruzzese, Novella Pugliese, Gianni Binotto, Giovanni Caocci, Giuseppe Auteri, Daniele Cattaneo, Malgorzata M. Trawinska, Rossella Stella, Luigi Scaffidi, Nicola PolverelliGiorgia Micucci, Elena Masselli, Monica Crugnola, Costanza Bosi, Florian H. Heidel, Roberto Latagliata, Fabrizio Pane, Antonio Cuneo, Mauro Krampera, Gianpietro Semenzato, Roberto M. Lemoli, Michele Cavo, Nicola Vianelli, Massimiliano Bonifacio, Giuseppe A. Palumbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: After ruxolitinib discontinuation, the outcome of patients with myelofibrosis (MF) is poor with scarce therapeutic possibilities. METHODS: The authors performed a subanalysis of an observational, retrospective study (RUX-MF) that included 703 MF patients treated with ruxolitinib to investigate 1) the frequency and reasons for ruxolitinib rechallenge, 2) its therapeutic effects, and 3) its impact on overall survival. RESULTS: A total of 219 patients (31.2%) discontinued ruxolitinib for ≥14 days and survived for ≥30 days. In 60 patients (27.4%), ruxolitinib was rechallenged for ≥14 days (RUX-again patients), whereas 159 patients (72.6%) discontinued it permanently (RUX-stop patients). The baseline characteristics of the 2 cohorts were comparable, but discontinuation due to a lack/loss of spleen response was lower in RUX-again patients (P =.004). In comparison with the disease status at the first ruxolitinib stop, at its restart, there was a significant increase in patients with large splenomegaly (P <.001) and a high Total Symptom Score (TSS; P <.001). During the rechallenge, 44.6% and 48.3% of the patients had spleen and symptom improvements, respectively, with a significant increase in the number of patients with a TSS reduction (P =.01). Although the use of a ruxolitinib dose > 10 mg twice daily predicted better spleen (P =.05) and symptom improvements (P =.02), the reasons for/duration of ruxolitinib discontinuation and the use of other therapies before rechallenge were not associated with rechallenge efficacy. At 1 and 2 years, 33.3% and 48.3% of RUX-again patients, respectively, had permanently discontinued ruxolitinib. The median overall survival was 27.9 months, and it was significantly longer for RUX-again patients (P =.004). CONCLUSIONS: Ruxolitinib rechallenge was mainly used in intolerant patients; there were clinical improvements and a possible survival advantage in many cases, but there was a substantial rate of permanent discontinuation. Ruxolitinib rechallenge should be balanced against newer therapeutic possibilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2657-2665
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • cancer
  • myelofibrosis
  • outcome
  • rechallenge
  • ruxolitinib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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