The aim of the present study was to compare thalidomide-dexamethasone (Thal-Dex) and vincristine-doxorubicin-dexamethasone (VAD) as primary therapy in preparation for autologous peripheral blood stem-cell (PBSC) transplantation for multiple myeloma (MM). For this purpose, we performed a retrospective matched case-control analysis of 200 patients who entered 2 consecutive studies from 1996 to 2004 and received Thal-Dex (n = 100) or VAD (n = 100) administered for 4 months before collection of PBSCs and autologous transplantation. Matching criteria included age, clinical stage, and serum β2- microglobulin levels. In comparison with VAD, Thal-Dex resulted in a significantly higher response rate (52% versus 76%, respectively; P <.001) and effected more profound reduction in myeloma cell mass of both immunoglobulin G (IgG; P = .02) and IgA (P = .03) type. More frequent: toxicities included nonfatal deep vein thrombosis with Thal-Dex (15%) and granulocytopenia with VAD (12%). In each of the 2 treatment groups, 91% of patients proceeded to PBSC mobilization. The median number of collected CD34+ cells was 7.85 × 106/kg in the Thal-Dex group and 10.5 × 10 6/kg in the control group. Thal-Dex may be considered an effective and relatively well-tolerated oral alternative to the more complex VAD regimen as front-line therapy for MM patients who are candidates for subsequent autologous transplantation.
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