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J Clin Oncol. 2008 Nov 10;26(32):5165-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.16.0283. Epub 2008 Oct 6.

Population-based analysis of incidence and outcome of transformed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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Division of Medical Oncology, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Cancer Centers and the Department of Pathology and Biostatistics, British Columbia Cancer Agency and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.



To assess the incidence and predictive factors for development of transformed lymphoma in a population-based series of patients with follicular lymphoma (FL).


The Lymphoid Cancer Database was used to identify patients with FL diagnosed and treated in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Transformed lymphoma was defined as the development of aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in patients with FL. Factors present at the time of initial diagnosis of indolent NHL and at transformation were analyzed for their impact on risk of transformation and subsequent outcome.


Between 1986 and 2001, 600 patients with newly diagnosed FL met the inclusion criteria. With a median follow-up of 109 months (range, 10 to 244), 170 (28%) developed transformation, 107 (63%) based on biopsy confirmation. The annual risk of transformation was 3% continuously through 15 years. A multivariate analysis of clinical factors at diagnosis identified advanced stage as the only predictor of future transformation. The median post-transformation survival was 1.7 years. The 5-year survival was superior for patients with limited extent transformation compared with those with advanced cases (66% v 19%, P < .0001). Patients with transformation based on clinical versus histological criteria had an identical median survival of 1.8 years (P = .2).


The annual risk of transformation of FL is 3% continuing without plateau beyond 15 years. Advanced stage at diagnosis is predictive of future transformation. Clinically diagnosed transformation has an equal impact on outcome as biopsy proven transformation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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