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Cancer. 2007 May 15;109(10):2077-82.

Introduction of rituximab in front-line and salvage therapies has improved outcome of advanced-stage follicular lymphoma patients.

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Department of Oncology and Hematology, University of Modena, Modena, Italy.



It is unclear whether new treatment modalities have improved the survival of follicular lymphoma patients. Some data show that there has been no improvement in survival in the last 3 decades of the 20th century, whereas the results of recent retrospective studies suggest that evolving therapy has improved the outcome for follicular lymphoma patients.


To evaluate the impact of evolving therapies for follicular lymphoma, particularly the introduction of rituximab, the overall survival (OS), failure-free survival (FFS), and survival after recurrence (SAR) was analyzed in 438 advanced-stage follicular lymphoma patients enrolled in consecutive Gruppo Italiano Studio Linfomi (GISL) trials between 1988 and 2004.


A stepwise improvement in FFS and a significant reduction in the hazard ratio was observed with succeeding studies. Cox regression analysis showed an improvement over time for OS, with a decline in the hazard ratio particularly evident in the group treated with rituximab. Furthermore, the SAR significantly improved in the group of patients treated with chemotherapy + rituximab.


After adjusting for all parameters with an impact on FFS and OS, the results of multivariate analysis suggest that rituximab therapy has a favorable effect on the prognosis of follicular lymphoma. The data show that FFS and OS have significantly improved in advanced-stage follicular lymphoma patients treated on GISL protocols during the last 18 years. These improvements are related to evolving front-line and salvage therapies, particularly the introduction of rituximab in combination with chemotherapy.

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