Based on the single-agent activity of both paclitaxel and cyclophosphamide in the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), we conducted a phase II study to evaluate the efficacy of the combination of the two drugs in patients with refractory and relapsed aggressive NHL. All patients received 900 mg/m2 bolus of cyclophosphamide intravenously daily for 3 consecutive days with a concurrent infusion of 150 mg/m2 of paclitaxel over 72 h (50 mg/m2/d). 24 h after the completion of chemotherapy, patients received subcutaneous injections of 5 μg/kg of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) daily until white cell count recovery. Treatment was repeated every 3 weeks. Patients who had at least a partial response (PR) after two courses continued to receive a maximum of four courses. Patients with responding disease were allowed to undergo high-dose chemotherapy followed by stem-cell/bone marrow transplantation if they were eligible. Of the 77 patients who were eligible for the study, 74 (96%) were evaluable for toxicity and treatment response. The overall response rate was 45% (95% CI 33-57%). Patients who received treatment after their disease relapsed from a complete response (CR) had an 81% response rate (38% CRs), whereas those with primary refractory disease had a 22% response rate. Toxicities of >grade 2 included alopecia (100%) and stomatitis (25%). Neutropenic fever of grade >2 occurred after 18% of the courses, and platelet count of ≤20 x 109/l developed after 20% of the courses. Thus, the combination of paclitaxel plus high-dose cyclophosphamide is an effective new regimen in the treatment of refractory and relapsed NHL.
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