We administered deoxycoformycin (dCF) and interferon-alfa sequentially to patients with hairy cell leukemia in an attempt to improve the response rate and duration observed in earlier studies using each drug alone. Further rationale for this study included the observation that interferon- alfa resistant patients were nearly uniformally responsive to second line dCF. As there was some overlapping toxicity, we decided to administer the drugs sequentially rather than concurrently. In this study, we evaluated patients for response by performing bilateral iliac crest bone marrow biopsies and aspirates since the peripheral blood normalizes rapidly after either interferon-alfa or dCF treatment but disease becomes patchy in the bone marrow and might be missed if only unilateral bone marrow biopsies had been performed. Other studies using interferon-alfa or dCF alone used unilateral marrow examinations in evaluating response. Using these more relaxed criteria of response, authors had published high rates of complete remission of dCF. Of 15 patients entered in our study, 14 being evaluable for marrow response. All patients had rapid normalization of peripheral blood counts and all 14 marrow-evaluable patients were found to have very small numbers (less than 5% of the total marrow cellularity) of residual hairy cells at the completion of treatment. With a median follow-up now of 35 months, no patient has had an increase in the number of hairy cells in the bone marrow or any change in the peripheral blood. Although the initial response rate to the combination of dCF and interferon appears to be no better than that observed with dCF alone, the response duration may be longer. These patients continue to be followed for determination of response duration.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Intramural Research (Z01)
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Division of Cancer Treatment
United States
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