Different response to salvage chemotherapy but similar post-transplant outcomes in patients with relapsed and refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma
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Background: The use of high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem-cell transplantation in patients with relapsed Hodgkin's lymphoma is supported by two randomized clinical trials but its benefit in patients with primary refractory disease is less clear. Aiming to shed light on this issue, we analyzed and compared the outcomes of patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma treated with second-line chemotherapy and planned autologous stem-cell transplantation. Design and Methods: We retrospectively analyzed data on 157 consecutive patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma referred to our institution for consideration of autologous stem-cell transplantation between 1999 and 2006. Of those, 73 met the definition of having primary refractory disease, ie. progressive disease during first line chemotherapy or within 3 months of completion of the treatment. Those patients achieving complete remission, partial remission and stable disease with symptomatic improvement after two or three cycles of salvage chemotherapy proceeded to stem cell mobilization and autologous transplantation. Results: From first relapse/progression, the 3-year overall survival was 76% (95% CI: 66%-89%) for the refractory cohort and 91% (95% CI: 84%-98%) for the relapsed cohort (P=0.034); the overall response rate to second-line chemotherapy was 51% and 83% (P<0.0001), respectively. Three-year progression-free survival post-transplant was 49% in refractory patients and 67% in relapsed patients (P=0.21); overall survival was 75% and 91% (P=0.097), respectively.
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