Medline: 9164181

The abstract Journal of Clinical Oncology 15(5): 1745-1753, 1997. is available online.

The fulltext Journal of Clinical Oncology 15(5): 1745-1753, 1997. may be available online for subscribers.

Late relapse in patients with diffuse large-cell lymphoma treated with MACOP-B.

Lee AY, Connors JM, Klimo P, et al.


To examine the clinical course of patients who experienced a late relapse after initial curative chemotherapy for advanced-stage diffuse large-cell lymphoma.

Patients and Methods:
Between April 1981 and June 1986, 127 patients with de novo advanced-stage diffuse large-cell lymphoma were treated with a 12-week chemotherapy program (methotrexate, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone, and bleomycin [MACOP-B]). The overall survival rate at 10 years is 52%. One hundred six patients (83%) entered a complete remission (CR) and 43 of them relapsed. With a median follow-up duration of 146 months, 26 patients relapsed early and 17 relapsed late, ie, after a continuous CR (cCR) of greater than 24 months. All late relapses occurred in patients with B-cell lymphoma.

After 24 months from diagnosis, the rate of late relapse averaged 2.2% per year and reached a projected 22% actuarial risk of late relapse after 10 years. The median time to late relapse was 69 months (range, 38 to 141). Ten patients relapsed with aggressive histologic subtypes and were treated with curative intent using anthracycline-based chemotherapy. Four remain in second CR, one is alive with disease, and five died of disease or while on treatment. The 6-year overall survival rate from the time of relapse (SFR) for these 10 patients is 42%. Six patients relapsed with low-grade follicular lymphoma. These patients received various treatments intended to control, but not necessarily cure disease. One is in second CR, one is alive with disease, and four died of disease or while on treatment. The 6-year overall SFR rate for these six patients is 40%. bcl-2 translocation and Bcl-2 protein expression at diagnosis did not predict for the type of late relapse. One patient did not undergo repeat biopsy at relapse and died 9 months later despite aggressive therapy.

Curative therapy should be attempted in patients who relapse late with aggressive-histology lymphoma and those who relapse with follicular histology may benefit from palliative treatment. The behavior of late-relapse lymphoma is similar to de novo lymphoma, with outcome dictated by the histologic subtype at relapse.

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Rheinische Friedrich- Wilhelms- Universität Bonn
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Dr. G. Quade