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Ann Oncol. 2009 Apr;20(4):722-8. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdn691. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

Characteristics of relapse after autologous stem-cell transplantation for follicular lymphoma: a long-term follow-up.

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  • 1Department of Medicine V, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.



Pattern and outcome of disease recurrence after autologous stem-cell transplantation (autoSCT) for follicular lymphoma (FL) is not well known.


Relapse cases were identified from 241 consecutive patients autografted for disseminated untransformed FL from 1990 to 2002 in three institutions. Prognostic factors for relapse and outcome after relapse were analyzed by log-rank comparisons and Cox regression analyses.


One hundred and three relapses occurred. The 10-year relapse probability was 47%. Median time from autoSCT to relapse was 20 (2-128) months. Only three relapses were observed later than 6 years posttransplant. Median survival after relapse was 8.3 years. Patients with disease recurrence within 1 year from transplant and those who had received autoSCT as second-line treatment had significantly reduced survival by multivariate analysis, whereas Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index score, age, remission status at autoSCT, high-dose regimen, and ex vivo purging had no impact.


FL recurrence after autoSCT follows a biphasic pattern with continuing relapse during the first 6 years and only few events thereafter. The prognosis after relapse is relatively good and appears to be comparable to that of disease recurrence after standard treatment. The situation is less favorable for patients who relapse within the first posttransplant year.

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