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Br J Haematol. 2017 Oct;179(2):242-245. doi: 10.1111/bjh.14839. Epub 2017 Jul 5.

Bone marrow biopsies do not impact response assessment for follicular lymphoma patients treated on clinical trials.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Meyer Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA.


Clinical trials enrolling follicular lymphoma (FL) patients typically require bone marrow biopsies (BMBs) at baseline and at a subsequent point if complete response is achieved. These procedures are painful, take time and add cost. We hypothesized that BMBs do not provide information significant for response assessment in most follicular lymphoma patients on clinical trials. We identified 99 patients treated on clinical trials for follicular lymphoma between 2000 and 2016. BMBs resulted in a possible response assessment change in 1·0% of patients (95% confidence interval: 0·0-5·5%). We conclude that mandatory BMBs at baseline and for response assessment are unnecessary in clinical trials for follicular lymphoma.


bone marrow biopsies; clinical trials; follicular lymphoma; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; response criteria

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