FROM JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY

Patients with follicular lymphoma who relapse within 2 years of receiving R-CHOP chemoimmunotherapy are at high risk of death, unlike those who do not relapse early, according to a report published online in Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Survival in follicular lymphoma, the second most common non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States, has dramatically improved over time, and the median survival after first-line chemoimmunotherapy now exceeds 18 years. But researchers have noted a remarkably consistent 20% rate of early relapse across numerous forms of treatment and varied study populations. Until now, the clinical significance of early relapse and its impact on overall survival has not been explored, said Dr. Carla Casulo of the University of Rochester, New York, and her associates.

They examined this issue using data from a national cohort of patients with newly diagnosed follicular lymphoma, focusing on 588 patients with stage II, III, or IV disease who were treated using first-line rituximab with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP). A total of 19% of these patients relapsed within 24 months of diagnosis. Median follow-up was 7 years. With early disease progression, overall survival was only 68% at 2 years and only 50% at 5 years, compared with 97% and 90%, respectively, among patients who didn’t have early disease progression. Early progression was associated with markedly reduced survival, with a hazard ratio of 7.17.

To verify their findings in a separate cohort, Dr. Casulo and her associates assessed survival in 147 similar patients participating in a different study who were followed for a mean of 5.5 years. A total of 26% of this cohort had early relapse after receiving a variety of first-line chemoimmunotherapy regimens. With early disease progression, overall survival was only 64% at 2 years and only 34% at 5 years, compared with 98% and 94%, respectively, among patients who didn’t have early progression. Again, early progression was associated with markedly reduced survival, with an HR of 20.0 (J. Clin. Oncol. 2015 June 29 [ doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.59.7534 ]).

These two studies confirm that patients with follicular lymphoma who relapse within 2 years constitute a distinct subgroup at very high risk of death. “Given their poor prognosis, consideration of aggressive second-line treatments, including possibly autologous stem-cell transplantation, seem reasonable,” the investigators said.

tor@frontlinemedcom.com

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