Purpose: For more than two decades, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (CHOP) has been the standard therapy for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The addition of rituximab to CHOP has been shown to improve outcome in elderly patients with DLBCL. We conducted a population-based analysis to assess the impact of this combination therapy on adult patients with DLBCL in the province of British Columbia (BC).
Methods: We compared outcomes during a 3-year period; 18 months before (prerituximab) and 18 months after (postrituximab) institution of a policy recommending the combination of CHOP and rituximab for all patients with newly diagnosed advanced-stage (stage III or IV or stage I or II with "B" symptoms or bulky [> 10 cm] disease) DLBCL.
Results: A total of 292 patients were evaluated; 140 in the prerituximab group (median follow-up, 42 months) and 152 in the postrituximab group (median follow-up, 24 months). Both progression-free survival (risk ratio, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.39 to 0.81; P = .002) and overall survival (risk ratio, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.27 to 0.61, P < .0001) were significantly improved in the postrituximab group. After controlling for age and International Prognostic Index score, era of treatment remained a strong independent predictor of progression-free survival (risk ratio, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.41 to 0.85; P = .005) and overall survival (risk ratio, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.29 to 0.66; P < .001). The benefit of treatment in the postrituximab era was present regardless of age.
Conclusion: The addition of rituximab to CHOP chemotherapy has resulted in a dramatic improvement in outcome for DLBCL patients of all ages in the province of BC.