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J Clin Oncol. 2008 Jun 1;26(16):2717-24. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.13.1391. Epub 2008 Mar 31.

Phase II study of dose-adjusted EPOCH and rituximab in untreated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma with analysis of germinal center and post-germinal center biomarkers.

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  • 1Metabolism Branch, National Cancer Institute, Building 10, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



To assess the clinical outcome and the influence of biomarkers associated with apoptosis inhibition (Bcl-2), tumor proliferation (MIB-1), and cellular differentiation on the outcome with dose-adjusted (DA) EPOCH (etoposide, prednisone, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin) plus rituximab (R) infusional therapy in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) with analysis of germinal center B-cell (GCB) and post-GCB subtypes by immunohistochemistry.


Phase II study of 72 patients with untreated de novo DLBCL who were at least 18 years of age and stage II or higher. Radiation consolidation was not permitted.


Patients had a median age of 50 years (range, 19 to 85) and 40% had a high-intermediate or high International Prognostic Index (IPI). At 5 years, progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were 79% and 80%, respectively, with a median potential follow-up of 54 months. PFS was 91%, 90%, 67%, and 47%, and OS was 100%, 90%, 74%, and 37%, for 0 to 1, 2, 3, and 4 to 5 IPI factors, respectively, at 5 years. The Bcl-2 and MIB-1 biomarkers were not associated with PFS or OS. Based on DA-EPOCH historical controls, rituximab only benefited Bcl-2 positive tumors. Bcl-6 expression was associated with higher PFS whereas GCB exhibited a marginally significant higher PFS compared with post-GCB DLBCL.


DA-EPOCH-R outcome was not affected by tumor proliferation and rituximab appeared to overcome the adverse effect of Bcl-2. Bcl-6 may identify a biologic program associated with a superior outcome. Overall, DA-EPOCH-R shows promising outcome in low and intermediate IPI groups. A molecular model of treatment outcome with rituximab and chemotherapy is presented.

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