Richter's transformation to diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: a retrospective study reporting clinical data, outcome, and the benefit of adding rituximab to chemotherapy, from the Israeli CLL Study Group.
Richter's syndrome (RS) is the rare development of an aggressive lymphoid malignancy in a patient with pre-existing chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Data on RS is sparse and mostly derived from case reports or small series of patients and only a few larger cohorts have been published. The purpose of this large retrospective study was to summarize our national experience with RS in CLL, examine possible risk factors, and analyze relevant demographic, laboratory and clinical parameters, including results of therapy and outcome. We first evaluated data obtained from 119 patients with RS diagnosed during 1971-2010 from 12 medical centers in Israel. The final cohort summarized consisted of 81 patients with RS who developed only diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) after exclusion all cases with insufficient data and those who were not DLBCL. Median overall survival from time of diagnosis of RS was 8 months; after applying the Richter score, patients could be stratified into three prognostic groups, while all other clinical and laboratory parameters evaluated had no prognostic significance. Prior therapy for CLL had no impact on RS survival (P = 0.8) and patients with therapy "naïve" RS and those who had already received chemotherapy prior to developing RS, had the same survival. The addition of rituximab to chemotherapy for RS improved 2 years overall survival from 19% in the chemotherapy alone arm to 42% (P value of 0.001). Although prognosis of patients with RS remains dismal, this retrospective observation provides support for the use of chemo-immunotherapy in DLBCL-RS.
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