Rituximab with dose-adjusted EPOCH as first-line treatment in patients with highly aggressive diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and autologous stem cell transplantation in selected patients

Vlatko Pejša, Željko Prka, Marko Lucijanić, Zdravko Mitrović, Mario Piršić, Ozren Jakšić, Radmila Ajduković, Rajko Kušec
Croatian Medical Journal 2017 February 28, 58 (1): 40-48

AIM: To assess the benefit of rituximab with dose-adjusted etoposide, prednisone, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin (R-DA-EPOCH) regimen as a first-line treatment for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) presenting with unfavorable or aggressive features, and autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) as a part of the first-line treatment for selected DLBCL patients with additional aggressive features.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed 75 newly diagnosed DLBCL patients with Ki-67+≥80% or International Prognostic Index ≥2 who were treated with R-DA-EPOCH between 2005 and 2015. Of 24 DLBCL patients with additional aggressive features (Ki-67+≥90% or age-adjusted IPI≥2) who were planned to receive consolidation with ASCT, 17 patients underwent the procedure. We determined the overall response rate (ORR), complete remission (CR), partial remission (PR), 5-year overall survival (OS), and progression free survival (PFS) in all DLBCL patients and specifically those planned to receive ASCT.

RESULTS: All 75 patients included in the analysis started one or more cycles of therapy. The ORR, CR, and PR rates were 80%, 55%, and 25%, respectively. The response was non-evaluable in 10 of 75 patients due to treatment discontinuation. The OS and PFS rates for all 75 patients were 70% and 61%, respectively, and 80% and 79%, respectively, for 24 planned-to-receive-ASCT patients. Age (≤65 vs >65 years) had no prognostic impact on OS and PFS (P=0.994 and P=0.827, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Our retrospective analysis of one of the largest DLBCL patient cohorts outside the US National Cancer Institute showed that R-DA-EPOCH is a very effective therapeutic option as a first-line treatment of DLBCL patients with unfavorable prognostic features irrespective of their age. ASCT provided additional benefit for DLBCL patients with additional aggressive features.

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