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PLoS One. 2016 Mar 2;11(3):e0150445. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150445. eCollection 2016.

CHOP Chemotherapy for Aggressive Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma with and without HIV in the Antiretroviral Therapy Era in Malawi.

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UNC Project-Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill, United States of America.
University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi.
University of North Carolina Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Chapel Hill, United States of America.
Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Weill Cornell Medical College, Ithaca, United States of America.


There are no prospective studies of aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) treated with CHOP in sub-Saharan Africa. We enrolled adults with aggressive NHL in Malawi between June 2013 and May 2015. Chemotherapy and supportive care were standardized, and HIV+ patients received antiretroviral therapy (ART). Thirty-seven of 58 patients (64%) were HIV+. Median age was 47 years (IQR 39-56), and 35 (60%) were male. Thirty-five patients (60%) had stage III/IV, 43 (74%) B symptoms, and 28 (48%) performance status ≥ 2. B-cell NHL predominated among HIV+ patients, and all T-cell NHL occurred among HIV- individuals. Thirty-one HIV+ patients (84%) were on ART for a median 9.9 months (IQR 1.1-31.7) before NHL diagnosis, median CD4 was 121 cells/μL (IQR 61-244), and 43% had suppressed HIV RNA. HIV+ patients received a similar number of CHOP cycles compared to HIV- patients, but more frequently developed grade 3/4 neutropenia (84% vs 31%, p = 0.001), resulting in modestly lower cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin doses with longer intervals between cycles. Twelve-month overall survival (OS) was 45% (95% CI 31-57%). T-cell NHL (HR 3.90, p = 0.017), hemoglobin (HR 0.82 per g/dL, p = 0.017), albumin (HR 0.57 per g/dL, p = 0.019), and IPI (HR 2.02 per unit, p<0.001) were associated with mortality. HIV was not associated with mortality, and findings were similar among patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Twenty-three deaths were from NHL (12 HIV+, 11 HIV-), and 12 from CHOP (9 HIV+, 3 HIV-). CHOP can be safe, effective, and feasible for aggressive NHL in Malawi with and without HIV.

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