Bleomycin pulmonary toxicity has a negative impact on the outcome of patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma

J Clin Oncol. 2005 Oct 20;23(30):7614-20. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2005.02.7243. Epub 2005 Sep 26.


Purpose: Bleomycin pulmonary toxicity (BPT) has been well described in Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) patients treated with bleomycin-containing chemotherapy regimens. The influence of this pulmonary complication, along with the omission of bleomycin from further chemotherapy, on overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) in HL remains unclear. We reviewed our experience with BPT in HL to better delineate outcome and appropriate treatment in these patients.

Patients and methods: One hundred forty-one patients who were treated with bleomycin-containing chemotherapy for newly diagnosed HL between January 1986 and February 2003 were eligible for this retrospective review. BPT was defined by the presence of pulmonary symptoms, bilateral interstitial infiltrates, and no evidence of an infectious etiology.

Results: BPT was observed in 18% of patients. Increasing age, doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine as initial therapy, and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor use were associated with the development of BPT. Patients with BPT had a median 5-year OS rate of 63% v 90% (P = .001) in unaffected patients. The mortality rate from BPT was 4.2% in all patients and 24% in patients who developed the pulmonary syndrome. BPT incidence and mortality were highest in patients older than 40 years. The omission of bleomycin had no impact on obtaining a complete remission, PFS, or OS.

Conclusion: BPT results in a significant decrease in 5-year OS in patients who are treated for HL. Age > or = 40 years seems to add substantially to the risk. In patients who do not die from acute pulmonary toxicity, both OS and PFS seem equal, despite the omission of bleomycin.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Bleomycin
  • Child
  • Dacarbazine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Female
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Hodgkin Disease / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vinblastine


  • Bleomycin
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Vinblastine
  • Dacarbazine
  • Doxorubicin