, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 263-272
Date: 20 Aug 2009

Post-autologous stem cell transplantation administration of rituximab improves the outcome of patients with aggressive B cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

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Abstract

The major cause of treatment failure following high-dose therapy with autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) for aggressive B cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is persistent disease or recurrence. We describe our experience with the administration of rituximab post-ASCT, either as maintenance therapy or for the treatment of relapsed disease in patients with aggressive B cell NHL. Fifty-six patients achieved complete remission post-transplant, and 19 of them received maintenance with rituximab. Maintenance with rituximab resulted in statistically significant superior outcome in terms of progression free (PFS; p = 0.002) and overall survival (OS; p = 0.011). The median PFS and OS of patients in the maintenance arm has not been reached yet, while the median PFS and OS of patients in the control arm were 29 and 42 months, respectively. Fifty-four patients had disease progression or relapsed post-ASCT, and 15 of them received rituximab in combination with chemo- and/or radiotherapy in order to achieve disease remission. Therapeutic administration of rituximab resulted in statistically significant prolongation of OS (p = 0.021). The median OS of patients treated with rituximab was 17 months, while median OS of patients in the control group was 10 months. We consider that the results of our study are promising but need to be verified within large randomized trials.

Tsirigotis and Dray contributed equally to this work.