Background: To determine the feasibility and results of treating children with non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL) according to very intensive protocols based on the German Berlin Frankfurt Münster NHL 90 study.
Methods and results: From 1991 until 1995 eighty two patients less than 18 years of age with NHL were admitted to our department. Sixty three of them were eligible for the study. The entire group consisted of 43 males and 20 females (ratio 2.1:1). Median age was 10 2/12 years. Eleven had stage I disease, 4 stage II, 29 stage III and 19 stage IV disease. Histologies represented were: large cell lymphoma 22, lymphoblastic lymphoma 19, and Burkitt lymphoma 10 patients. In 12 cases the immunophenotype was not further classified as to B-cell or T-cell subtype. Patients were stratified into the therapy groups "B" or "non B" according to histopathology, clinical stage and LDH level. Therapy for the B group consisted of 2, 4 or 6 courses of intensive 5 day pulses of 6 drugs. Patients in the non B group received the protocol for acute lymphoblastic leukemia including reinduction and CNS irradiation for advanced stages. At a median follow-up of 35 months the probability of event free survival (pEFS) at 5 years 70% and overall survival 73% for entire group. For therapy group B pEFS was 76%. The non B therapy group had a pEFS 60% (p = 0.22). There was a significantly better outcome for children classified as stage I and II. There was no statistical difference between stage III and IV. Treatment results were comparable between NHL subtypes, except for large cell lymphomas, which did significantly better (pEFS 90%).
Conclusions: The use of protocols based on BFM 90 study in the Czech Republic was feasible. The pEFS are approximately 10% lower than the German study but comparable to some other studies. Outcome for large cell lymphomas was excellent. Reduction of treatment related complication and mortality rate as well as more precise classification are required.