Fixed-duration therapies like venetoclax (venclexta) paired with an antibody medicine like obinutuzumab (gazyva) or rituximab (rituxan) are administered over the course of 1 year for previously untreated CLL and for up to 2 years for previously treated CLL. Patients may prefer a fixed duration therapy as it is not administered long-term and treatment has an end date.
Venetoclax in combination with an antibody therapy has shown to be effective for the majority of CLL patients in reducing the disease to an undetectable state and helping the patient remain in remission for up to 5 years. Once the disease resurfaces to a point that qualifies for treatment (as the disease is typically slow growing, this may be several more years even if the disease is present), another round of treatment would be administered to achieve an additional remission (reduced or no signs/symptoms of the disease present).
Continual duration therapies include BTK inhibitors (acalabrutinib [calquence] and zanubrutinib [brukinsa]). These medicines taken in the form of a tablet by mouth are administered long-term until the disease progresses and the patient no longer responds to treatment.
Patients may prefer to take a BTK inhibitor pill long-term instead of a fixed-duration therapy like venetoclax for reasons such as the antibody portion of the venetoclax treatment combination is administered by IV for 9 infusions, each infusion lasting about 90 minutes (spread out over 6 months). The infusion time done in a clinic setting may be seen as inconvenient.
Patients should discuss their treatment preferences with a CLL specialist. Need help to find a CLL specialist? Visit HealthTree's CLL specialist directory here.
about the author
Megan joined HealthTree as a Community Coordinator for CLL in 2022. She is the daughter of a blood cancer patient and has found a passion for helping support patients and caregivers to advance research for their cure and improve their quality of life. In her spare time, she loves to be around family, sew, and cook.