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J Clin Oncol. 2010 Sep 20;28(27):4184-90. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.28.1618. Epub 2010 Jul 26.

Salvage regimens with autologous transplantation for relapsed large B-cell lymphoma in the rituximab era.

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  • 1Hôpital Saint Louis, 1 Avenue Claude Vellefaux, 75010 Paris, France.

Erratum in

  • J Clin Oncol. 2012 May 20;30(15):1896.



Salvage chemotherapy followed by high-dose therapy and autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT) is the standard treatment for relapsed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Salvage regimens have never been compared; their efficacy in the rituximab era is unknown.


Patients with CD20(+) DLBCL in first relapse or who were refractory after first-line therapy were randomly assigned to either rituximab, ifosfamide, etoposide, and carboplatin (R-ICE) or rituximab, dexamethasone, high-dose cytarabine, and cisplatin (R-DHAP). Responding patients received high-dose chemotherapy and ASCT.


The median age of the 396 patients enrolled (R-ICE, n = 202; R-DHAP, n = 194) was 55 years. Similar response rates were observed after three cycles of R-ICE (63.5%; 95% CI, 56% to 70%) and R-DHAP (62.8%; 95 CI, 55% to 69%). Factors affecting response rates (P < .001) were refractory disease/relapse less than versus more than 12 months after diagnosis (46% v 88%, respectively), International Prognostic Index (IPI) of more than 1 versus 0 to 1 (52% v 71%, respectively), and prior rituximab treatment versus no prior rituximab (51% v 83%, respectively). There was no significant difference between R-ICE and R-DHAP for 3-year event-free survival (EFS) or overall survival. Three-year EFS was affected by prior rituximab treatment versus no rituximab (21% v 47%, respectively), relapse less than versus more than 12 months after diagnosis (20% v 45%, respectively), and IPI of 2 to 3 versus 0 to 1 (18% v 40%, respectively). In the Cox model, these parameters were significant (P < .001).


In patients who experience relapse more than 12 months after diagnosis, prior rituximab treatment does not affect EFS. Patients with early relapses after rituximab-containing first-line therapy have a poor prognosis, with no difference between the effects of R-ICE and R-DHAP.

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