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Haematologica. 2008 Dec;93(12):1829-36. doi: 10.3324/haematol.13440. Epub 2008 Oct 22.

R-ESHAP as salvage therapy for patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: the influence of prior exposure to rituximab on outcome. A GEL/TAMO study.

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  • 1Department of Hematology, Complejo Hospitalario de Zamora, Avenida de Requejo 35, Zamora 49022, Spain.



The role of re-treatment with rituximab in aggressive B-cell lymphomas still needs to be defined. This study evaluated the influence of prior exposure to rituximab on response rates and survival in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma treated with rituximab plus etoposide, cytarabine, cisplatinum and methylprednisolone (R-ESHAP).


We retrospectively analyzed 163 patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who received R-ESHAP as salvage therapy with a curative purpose. Patients were divided into two groups according to whether rituximab had been administered (n=94, "R+" group) or not (n=69, "R-" group) prior to R-ESHAP.


Response rates were significantly higher in the R- group in the univariate but not in the multivariate analysis. In the analysis restricted to the R+ group, we observed very low complete remission and overall response rates in patients with primary refractory disease (8% and 33%, respectively), as compared to those in patients who were in first partial remission (41% and 86%) or who had relapsed disease (50% and 75%) (p<0.01 in both cases). Overall, 60% and 65% of patients in the R+ and R- groups, respectively, underwent stem-cell transplantation after the salvage therapy. With a median follow-up of 29 months (range, 6-84), patients in the R+ group had significantly worse progression-free survival (17% vs. 57% at 3 years, p<0.0001) and overall survival (38% v 67% at 3 years, p=0.0005) than patients in the R- group. Prior exposure to rituximab was also an independent adverse prognostic factor for both progression-free survival (RR: 2.0; 95% CI: 1.2-3.3, p=0.008) and overall survival (RR: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.3-3.9, p=0.004).


R-ESHAP was associated with a high response rate in patients who were not refractory to upfront rituximab-based chemotherapy. However, the survival outcome was poor for patients previously exposed to rituximab, as compared to in those who had not previously been treated with rituximab.

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