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Leuk Lymphoma. 2003;44 Suppl 4:S6-14.

Traditional treatment approaches in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology, L. e A Seràgnoli, University of Bologna, Italy.


Current treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is based, to a large extent, on stratification of patients into groups based on disease subtype (indolent or aggressive) and stage, and still relies heavily on traditional approaches based on external beam irradiation and alkylating agent-based chemotherapy. Here, we describe risk-based patient management, and the benefits made possible by different treatments. Early-stage localized disease is effectively managed with irradiation and/or chemotherapy; chlorambucil in the case of indolent disease and CHOP-based therapy in the case of aggressive disease. Progress is underway in two crucial areas of the treatment of advanced-stage low-grade NHL: development of first-line therapies to improve the number and quality of complete responses (CRs), and investigation of novel radioimmunotherapy or monoclonal antibody/chemotherapy combination regimens to combat relapsed and refractory disease. New chemotherapy approaches, such as fludarabine phosphate-based combination chemotherapy for low-grade advanced-stage NHL have improved the number and quality of remissions in chemotherapy-naïve and relapsed patients, but it remains to be seen what the long-term impact on survival may be. Monoclonal antibody based therapies including radioimmunotherapy, is emerging as a highly effective tool for the treatment of NHL, and shows synergy with fludarabine phosphate-based chemotherapy, though its optimal role has yet to be determined. At present, for patients with untreated disseminated disease; recurrent disease; or high-grade disease in the presence of poor risk factors; alternative treatment strategies are needed.

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