Time-intensified dexamethasone/cisplatin/cytarabine: an effective salvage therapy with low toxicity in patients with relapsed and refractory Hodgkin's disease

Ann Oncol. 2002 Oct;13(10):1628-35. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdf221.


Background: An important variable affecting outcome in relapsed and refractory Hodgkin's disease (HD) is the potential of conventional salvage chemotherapy to reduce tumor volume before high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and autologous stem cell transplantation. Currently, the optimal salvage chemotherapy regimen for these patients is unclear. Since dexamethasone/cisplatin/cytarabine (DHAP) given at 3-4 week intervals has been shown to be very effective in patients with relapsed aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, we evaluated this regimen given at a median of 16-day intervals in patients with relapsed and refractory HD.

Patients and methods: Patients with relapsed or refractory HD were treated with two cycles of DHAP [dexamethasone 40 mg intravenously (i.v.) day 1-4, cisplatin 100 mg/m(2) i.v. as 24-h continuous infusion day 1, and cytarabine 2 g/m(2) i.v. 12q day 2]. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) was given at a dose of 5 micro g/kg from day 4 until day 13. Patients with partial remission (PR) or complete remission (CR) after two cycles of DHAP received sequential HDCT.

Results: The median age of the 102 patients included was 34 years (range 21-64 years). Forty-two percent of the patients had late relapse, 29% early relapse, 12% multiple relapse and 16% primary progressive/refractory disease. The response rate (RR) after two cycles of DHAP was 89% (21% CR, 68% PR). The RRs for patients with late, early, multiple and progressive HD were 91%, 93%, 92% and 65%, respectively. Using the chi-square test for independence, remission status (relapsed HD versus progressive HD) and stage at relapse (stage I/II versus stage III/IV) were significant factors for response to DHAP. WHO grade 4 leukocytopenia and thrombocytopenia were the main toxic- ities occurring in 43% (mean duration 1.1 days, range 0-6) and 48% (mean duration 1.4 days, range 0-11) of all courses, respectively. Neither severe infections nor treatment-related deaths occurred. Peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs) were collected after the first cycle DHAP in eight patients. The hematopoietic progenitors showed a very rapid increase from day 10 with a synchronous and impressive peak on day 12. A mean of 6.1 x 10(6)/kg CD34(+) cells were collected per apheresis. As originally recommended in the protocol, PBSCs were routinely collected during sequential HDCT in the remaining patients.

Conclusions: A brief tumor-reducing program with two cycles of DHAP given in short intervals supported by G-CSF is effective and well-tolerated in patients with relapsed and refractory HD. This regimen can be used to mobilize stem cells and select those patients with chemosensitive relapse who should subsequently be treated with HDCT.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Cytarabine / administration & dosage
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / administration & dosage
  • Hodgkin Disease / drug therapy*
  • Hodgkin Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Leukopenia / chemically induced
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Recurrence
  • Salvage Therapy*
  • Thrombocytopenia / chemically induced
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cytarabine
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Dexamethasone
  • Cisplatin

Supplementary concepts

  • DHAP protocol