VEPEMB in elderly Hodgkin's lymphoma patients. Results from an Intergruppo Italiano Linfomi (IIL) study

Ann Oncol. 2004 Jan;15(1):123-8. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdh012.


Background: In advanced age the prognosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) is poor, but, as a consequence of the low incidence of HL in the elderly, prospective studies are lacking and the best treatment strategy is difficult to define.

Patients and methods: One-hundred and five HL patients over 65 years of age were treated homogeneously with an original reduced-intensity regimen designed for HL in the elderly containing vinblastine, cyclophosphamide, procarbazine, etoposide, mitoxantrone and bleomycin (VEPEMB). Forty-eight early stage (IA-IIA) patients received three courses of VEPEMB followed by involved field irradiation. Fifty-seven advanced stage (IIB-IV) patients received six courses followed by radiotherapy limited to the areas of bulky disease.

Results: Mean age was 71 years (range 66-83). Co-morbidities were present in 39 patients (37%). A treatment plan modification for poor tolerance or toxicity was needed in 18 patients. Results were satisfactory, even if they were better in early rather than in advanced stage disease: complete response rate 98% versus 58% (P <0.01); 5-year failure-free survival 79% versus 34% (P <0.01). The results were affected by advanced stage, systemic symptoms and co-morbidity but they were not influenced by age itself.

Conclusions: VEPEMB is an effective and low toxic regimen for HL in the elderly. Co-morbidity is a prognostic factor more important than age itself.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Bleomycin / administration & dosage
  • Comorbidity
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Etoposide / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Hodgkin Disease / complications
  • Hodgkin Disease / drug therapy*
  • Hodgkin Disease / pathology
  • Hodgkin Disease / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Mitoxantrone / administration & dosage
  • Procarbazine / administration & dosage
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vinblastine / administration & dosage


  • Bleomycin
  • Procarbazine
  • Vinblastine
  • Etoposide
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Mitoxantrone