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J Clin Oncol. 1996 Feb;14(2):534-42.

High-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous bone marrow transplantation versus dexamethasone, cisplatin, and cytarabine in aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with partial response to front-line chemotherapy: a prospective randomized italian multicenter study.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Biopatologia Umana, Universita La Sapienza, Roma, Italy.



To evaluate, in a prospective multicentric study, the efficacy of a conventional salvage chemotherapy (dexamethasone, cisplatin, and cytarabine [DHAP]) versus high-dose chemotherapy (carmustine, etoposide, cytarabine, and cyclophosphamide [BEAC]) followed by autologous bone marrow transplantation (ABMT) in patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in clinical partial response (PR) after two thirds of a conventional front-line therapy.


From August 1988 to August 1991, 286 patients with aggressive NHL were randomized in seven Italian institutions to receive fluorouracil, methotrexate, cytarabine, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (F-MACHOP) or methotrexate with leucovorin, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone, and bleomycin (MACOP-B) as front-line therapy. Of the 286 patients enrolled onto the trial, 77 (27%) were considered in PR after two thirds of the front-line therapy, and 49 of 77 (64%) were randomized: 27 to receive DHAP chemotherapy and 22 to receive BEAC followed by ABMT.


The response after second-line treatment was as follows: in the DHAP group, four patients (15%) achieved a complete remission (CR), 12 (44%) remained in stable PR, and 11 (41%) showed progressive disease; in the ABMT group, three patients (14%) obtained a CR, 18 (82%) obtained a stable PR, and one (4%) progressed, with an overall response (CR + stable PR) of 59% and 96% (P < .001) in the DHAP and ABMT groups, respectively. The overall survival was 59% versus 73% and the progression-free survival (PFS) was 52% versus 73% in the DHAP and ABMT groups, respectively (P, not significant). The toxicity was mild, particularly in the ABMT group, and no treatment-related deaths occurred in either group.


Because of the small number of patients randomized, we were unable to determine whether ABMT or a standard salvage regimen (DHAP) is superior for PR patients. However, we confirmed that myeloablative treatment is a safe and well-tolerated procedure in this category of patients and this may enable us to evaluate its role as part of a front-line treatment in poor-risk NHL patients.

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