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J Clin Oncol. 2004 Dec 15;22(24):4926-33.

Moderate increase of secondary hematologic malignancies after myeloablative radiochemotherapy and autologous stem-cell transplantation in patients with indolent lymphoma: results of a prospective randomized trial of the German Low Grade Lymphoma Study Group.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine III, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, University Hospital Grosshadern, Marchioninistrasse 15, 81377 Munich, Germany.



An increased risk of therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome (t-MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (t-AML) after high-dose therapy and autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT) for malignant lymphoma has been described by several studies, reporting a highly variable incidence ranging from 1% to 12%. To assess this risk more precisely, the German Low Grade Lymphoma Study Group investigated the incidence of t-MDS/t-AML after ASCT on the basis of a randomized comparison of ASCT versus interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) maintenance in indolent lymphoma.


Between 1996 and 2002, 440 patients with indolent lymphoma were randomly assigned after a cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone-like induction therapy regimen to myeloablative radiochemotherapy followed by ASCT or IFN-alpha. The incidence of secondary hematologic malignancies was determined by standardized follow-up of all study patients. Bone marrow samples from patients with proven or suspected t-MDS/t-AML were centrally reviewed.


After a median follow-up of 44 months, 431 patients were assessable. Five of 195 patients developed a secondary hematologic malignancy after ASCT. Two of these patients developed a secondary AML. Accordingly, the estimated 5-year risk for secondary hematologic neoplasias after ASCT was 3.8%. In contrast, in the IFN-alpha arm, the 5-year risk of hematologic neoplasias was 0.0% (P = .0248).


The data of this randomized trial demonstrate an increased risk of secondary hematologic malignancies after myeloablative radiochemotherapy and ASCT compared with conventional chemotherapy. However, as ASCT significantly improves progression-free survival, it is currently not evident to what extent the higher rate of t-MDS/t-AML will diminish the benefit of ASCT in indolent lymphoma.

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