Autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) consolidation remains the treatment of choice for patients with relapsed diffuse large B cell lymphoma. The impact of rituximab combined with chemotherapy in either first- or second-line therapy on the ultimate results of ASCT remains to be determined, however. This study was designed to evaluate the benefit of ASCT in patients achieving a second complete remission after salvage chemotherapy by retrospectively comparing the disease-free survival (DFS) after ASCT for each patient with the duration of the first complete remission (CR1). Between 1990 and 2005, a total of 470 patients who had undergone ASCT and reported to the European Blood and Bone Transplantation Registry with Medical Essential Data Form B information were evaluated. Of these 470 patients, 351 (74%) had not received rituximab before ASCT, and 119 (25%) had received rituximab before ASCT. The median duration of CR1 was 11 months. The median time from diagnosis to ASCT was 24 months. The BEAM protocol was the most frequently used conditioning regimen (67%). After ASCT, the 5-year overall survival was 63% (95% confidence interval, 58%-67%) and 5-year DFS was 48% (95% confidence interval, 43%-53%) for the entire patient population. Statistical analysis showed a significant increase in DFS after ASCT compared with duration of CR1 (median, 51 months versus 11 months; P < .001). This difference was also highly significant for patients with previous exposure to rituximab (median, 10 months versus not reached; P < .001) and for patients who had experienced relapse before 1 year (median, 6 months versus 47 months; P < .001). Our data indicate that ASCT can significantly increase DFS compared with the duration of CR1 in relapsed diffuse large B cell lymphoma and can alter the disease course even in patients with high-risk disease previously treated with rituximab.

Aggressive B cell lymphoma, Anti CD20 monoclonal antibody, Stem cell transplantation,
Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Department of Hematology

Mounier, N, Canals, C, Gisselbrecht, C, Cornelissen, J.J, Foà, R, Conde, M, … Sureda, A. (2012). High-Dose Therapy and Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation in First Relapse for Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma in the Rituximab Era: An Analysis Based on Data from the European Blood and Marrow Transplantation Registry. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 18(5), 788–793. doi:10.1016/j.bbmt.2011.10.010