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J Clin Oncol. 2004 Apr 15;22(8):1454-9. Epub 2004 Mar 15.

Stage I and II follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: long-term follow-up of no initial therapy.

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Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, 875 Blake Wilber Drive, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.



To analyze the outcome of no initial therapy in stage I and II follicular small-cleaved (FSC) and follicular mixed (FM) non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) on overall survival, time to treatment, incidence and course of transformation, and cause of death.


This was a retrospective analysis. Criteria for selection were patients with stage I and IIA FSC and FM (grades 1 and 2) NHL with therapy deferred for at least 3 months after diagnosis and a minimum follow-up of 1 year.


Forty-three patients were identified (11 stage I, 32 stage II), with a median age of 58 years. Reasons for no initial therapy included: physician choice (n = 20), large abdominal radiation field required (n = 10), advanced age (n = 7), concern for xerostomia (n = 4), or patient refusal (n = 2). At a median follow-up of 86 months, 27 patients (63%) had not been treated. The median time to treatment in the remaining 16 patients was 22 months. Four of 16 patients transformed to a higher-grade lymphoma. Nine patients died-six due to progressive lymphoma. Estimated survivals at 5, 10, and 20 years were 97%, 85%, and 22%, respectively.


In selected stage I and II follicular NHL patients, deferred therapy is an acceptable approach, as more than half of our patients remained untreated at a median of 6 or more years, and survival was comparable to that seen in reports with immediate treatment.

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