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Am J Hematol. 1995 Oct;50(2):116-23.

Autologous bone marrow transplantation versus chemotherapy in relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: estimates of long-term survival from the recent literature.

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  • 1Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, White River Junction, Vermont 05009, USA.


Long-term survival following chemotherapy or autologous bone marrow transplantation in adults with relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was evaluated. English language articles published from January 1, 1988 to September 1, 1993 were obtained from a broad-based MEDLINE search retrieving 3,854 citations regarding therapy for lymphomas. Citations were evaluated using both computer-based evaluation and manual review. Articles were included if they addressed the disease of interest (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Working Formulation D-H), the population of interest (adults with either relapsed or refractory disease), and the therapies of interest (chemotherapy or autologous bone marrow transplantation). Articles were excluded if they did not provide convincing information on long-term survival (as evidenced by either survival analysis or individual patient data) or if they reported a small number of patients (N < 15). No randomized trials of the two therapies were found. Nine case series were found reporting on 444 eligible patients receiving chemotherapy; eight were found reporting on 256 patients undergoing autologous marrow transplantation. After weighting by sample size, the mean 3-year survival rate was 25% (95% CI, 20-30%) following chemotherapy and 40% (95% CI, 33-47%) following marrow transplantation. The reporting of potentially relevant prognostic factors was inconsistent among articles. Despite our comprehensive synthesis and evaluation of currently available data, the survival advantage of marrow transplantation in relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that we report must be viewed as tentative, given the limitations of the case series data. In addition, establishing the comparability of patients treated with these therapies is made more difficult by the inconsistent reporting of potentially relevant prognostic factors. The results of an international randomized trial of these two therapies is forthcoming and may address some of these shortcomings.

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