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Cancer. 2012 Jun 1;118(11):2944-51. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26588. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

Lack of benefit of central nervous system prophylaxis for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in the rituximab era: findings from a large national database.

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Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Little is known about the utility of central nervous system (CNS) prophylaxis for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) in the rituximab era. The objective of this study was to characterize patterns of CNS prophylaxis for patients who received combined rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP) chemotherapy using the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Outcomes Database, a prospective cohort study that collects clinical and outcomes data for patients at 7 participating centers.


Patients who were eligible for this analysis presented with newly diagnosed DLBCL between January 2001 and July 2008, had no evidence of baseline CNS disease, and had received R-CHOP within 180 days of diagnosis. The authors assessed incidence and covariates of prophylaxis, prophylaxis modality, and, using propensity score analysis, outcomes such as overall survival.


Of 989 eligible patients, 117 received CNS prophylaxis (11.8%), most intrathecally (71.8%). Involvement of bone marrow, other high-risk site, >1 extranodal site, higher International Prognostic Index score, and higher stage were associated individually with the receipt of prophylaxis (all P < .0001). At a median follow-up of 2.5 years, there were 20 CNS recurrences (2% [95% confidence interval, 1.1%-2.9%]) among all patients, and overall survival was not affected by prophylaxis.


Given the overall low rate of CNS recurrence and lack of prophylaxis-associated survival benefit, the current data called into question the practice of CNS prophylaxis in the rituximab era.

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