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Oncol Lett. 2010 Jul;1(4):679-683. Epub 2010 Jul 1.

Role of conventional salvage multiple-drug chemotherapy in relapsed and refractory aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

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  • 1Medicina Interna e Gastroenterologia, Universit√† di Pavia, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico S. Matteo, Pavia, Italy.


Autologous stem cell transplantation is the standard care for patients with relapsed or refractory aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Of the patients who are sensitive to second-line chemotherapy, approximately 40-50% are likely to be cured using this approach. The optimal salvage regimen for pre-transplant debulking is controversial and these second-line chemotherapies are particularly important for patients who cannot undergo transplantation for various reasons including age, comorbidity and insufficient stem cell collection. Numerous reports regarding this topic are available. This study evaluated reports published in the last 5 years, focusing on conventional multiple-drug second-line chemotherapies (with or without rituximab), and disregarding single-agent investigational phase-II trials. Results are encouraging, particularly when considering that the more recent and less toxic combinations appear to be equivalent to or even more favourable than previous, more aggressive approaches. Previous results obtained using a combination of mitoxantrone, carboplatin, cytarabine and methylprednisolone, are further updated and included in this study. In conclusion, the most effective conventional chemotherapy currently available for patients with relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin lymphomas obtains complete remission rates of up to 50-70%; the achievement of a complete remission is the most important factor associated with a better outcome. Although the addition of rituximab is beneficial and safe, it is more effective in patients who have previously not been exposed to this monoclonal antibody. The addition of cycles of salvage chemotherapy to those strictly required for mobilization of peripheral blood stem cells ultimately improves the response rate.

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