First line therapy of patients with marginal zone lymphomas (MZL) is not well established and various regimens with chemo-immunotherapy can be used. Rituximab plus bendamustine (BR) is an effective and manageable treatment option for patients affected by indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The aim of this monocentric retrospective study was to analyze the effectiveness and safety of the use of BR regimen in MZL patients in first line in daily clinical practice. The treatment schedule was rituximab at the dose of 375 mg/m2 on day 1 of each cycle and bendamustine at the dose of 90 mg/m2 on day 2 and 3, every 28 days for a maximum of 6 cycles. We analyzed 65 MZL patients (28 extranodal [EMZL], 23 splenic [SMZL], and 14 nodal [NMZL]) who underwent BR regimen as first line treatment. The median time from diagnosis to therapy was 2.5 months. Final responses were: 38 complete response (CR, 58.5%), 20 partial response and 7 progressive disease, leading to an overall response rate (ORR) of 89.2%. With respect to the histology, the ORR was 89.3% for EMZL, 82.6% for SMZL and 100% for NMZL, respectively (difference not statistically significant). With a median follow-up time of 44.6 months (range, 3.3-175.0 months), 2 (one EMZL after 42 months and one SMZL after 10 months) of 38 (5.2%) CR patients had disease relapse, yielding an estimated disease free survival of 89.2% at 61.1 months. The estimated 6-year progression free survival was 71.8% with 15 relapsed/progressed patients showing lymphoma recurrence within 48 months from end of treatment. The most frequently reported adverse events (any grade) were neutropenia (N = 35, 53.8%), fatigue (N = 15, 23.0%), and nausea (N = 12, 18.4%). All toxicities quickly resolved and no treatment-related death occurred. The BR regimen is effective and feasible in MZL patients inducing prolonged disease control with manageable toxicities.
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