Intensified and high-dose chemotherapy with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and autologous stem-cell transplantation support as first-line therapy in high-risk diffuse large-cell lymphoma

U Vitolo, S Cortellazzo, A M Liberati, R Freilone, M Falda, M Bertini, B Botto, S Cinieri, A Levis, F Locatelli, E Lovisone, F Marmont, M Pizzuti, A Rossi, P Viero, T Barbui, F Grignani, L Resegotti
Journal of Clinical Oncology 1997, 15 (2): 491-8

PURPOSE: In our previous study with MACOPB, we identified a high-risk group of patients with a poor 3-year survival rate of 29%. These patients were defined as having at diagnosis advanced-stage disease with high tumor burden (TB) and elevated lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level or bone marrow (BM) involvement. A novel therapeutic scheme was investigated to improve the outcome of these patients.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Fifty patients with high-risk diffuse large-cell lymphoma (DLCL) were enrolled. The therapeutic scheme includes three phases: induction with 8 weeks of MACOPB; intensification with a 3-day course of mitoxantrone 8 mg/m2 plus high-dose cytarabine (HDARA-C) 2 g/m2 every 12 hours plus dexamethasone 4 mg/m2 every 12 hours (MAD protocol) and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) 5 microg/kg on days 4 to 17 to harvest peripheral-blood progenitor cells (PBPC); consolidation with carmustine (BCNU), etoposide, ARA-C, and melphalan (BEAM) regimen; plus autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT) with PBPC, marrow, or both.

RESULTS: Thirty-six patients (72%) achieved a complete response (CR), 11 (22%) showed no response (NR), and three (6%) died of toxicity. Among the 22 PRs or NRs after the induction phase, 56% of patients achieved a CR with subsequent intensified therapy. With a median follow-up duration of 32 months, the overall survival and failure-free survival rates were 56% and 50%, respectively. The disease-free survival rate is 69% at 32 months. Leukapheresis after MAD and G-CSF yielded a median of 32 x 10(6)/kg CD34+ cells and 80 x 10(4)/kg granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming units (CFU-GM). Thirty-nine patients were autografted and 11 did not undergo ASCT: six because of disease progression, four due to toxicity, and one because of patient refusal. The median times to achieve engrafment were 11 days (range, 7 to 19) to a neutrophil count greater than 0.5 x 10(9)/L and 12 days (range, 8 to 60) to a platelet count greater than 50 x 10(9)/L.

CONCLUSION: This sequential scheme with intensified and high-dose chemotherapy with ASCT is feasible with moderate toxicity and may improve the outcome in high-risk DLCL.

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