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Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk. 2012 Dec;12(6):406-11. doi: 10.1016/j.clml.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Sep 14.

Superior long-term outcome of patients with early transformation of non-Hodgkin lymphoma undergoing stem cell transplantation.

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Hematology and Stem Cell Transplantation Section, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


In this study, we discuss the results of patients with transformed lymphoma (TL) undergoing stem cell transplantation (SCT). Because of the paucity of literature on the treatment of TL, deciding on the optimal evidence-based treatment is a challenge. Herein, our results indicate that patients with early transformation may benefit the most from SCT.


Transformed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma arising from follicular lymphoma (TL) carries a poor prognosis with a median survival time after transformation reported to be approximately 1 year.


Fifty-one consecutive patients with TL received SCT between January 2000 and December 2010 (autologous SCT, n = 44, allogeneic SCT, n = 7).


Thirty-six (70.5%) patients had an early transformation, defined as histologic evidence of transformation at the time of initial diagnosis or transformation within 1 year of follicular lymphoma. Fifteen patients had early stage disease (29%) and 36 (71%) had advanced stage disease on presentation. At the time of analysis, 37 patients were alive with an estimated 5-year overall survival (OS) and event free survival (EFS) of 61.8% and 45%, respectively. OS and EFS were not significantly different between types of transplant procedure. The major cause of transplant failure was disease recurrence, with estimated 2-year relapse rate of 37.4%. Importantly, early transformation was independently associated with improved OS (hazard ratio [HR] 3.29; P = .028) and EFS (HR 2.49; P = .029).


Our results indicate that an aggressive transplant approach should be considered first in patients with TL and emphasize the need to incorporate novel strategies (eg, immunomodulation) early post-SCT to prevent relapses as disease recurrence remains the major cause of failure in heavily pretreated patients.

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