Phase II study of SMILE chemotherapy for newly diagnosed stage IV, relapsed, or refractory extranodal natural killer (NK)/T-cell lymphoma, nasal type: the NK-Cell Tumor Study Group study

J Clin Oncol. 2011 Nov 20;29(33):4410-6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.35.6287. Epub 2011 Oct 11.


Purpose: To explore a more effective treatment for newly diagnosed stage IV, relapsed, or refractory extranodal natural killer/T-cell lymphoma, nasal type (ENKL), we conducted a phase II study of the steroid (dexamethasone), methotrexate, ifosfamide, L-asparaginase, and etoposide (SMILE) regimen.

Patients and methods: Patients with newly diagnosed stage IV, relapsed, or refractory disease and a performance status of 0 to 2 were eligible. Two cycles of SMILE chemotherapy were administered as the protocol treatment. The primary end point was the overall response rate (ORR) after the protocol treatment.

Results: A total of 38 eligible patients were enrolled. The median age was 47 years (range, 16 to 67 years), and the male:female ratio was 21:17. The disease status was newly diagnosed stage IV in 20 patients, first relapse in 14 patients, and primary refractory in four patients. The eligibility was revised to include lymphocyte counts of 500/μL or more because the first two patients died from infections. No treatment-related deaths were observed after the revision. The ORR and complete response rate after two cycles of SMILE chemotherapy were 79% (90% CI, 65% to 89%) and 45%, respectively. In the 28 patients who completed the protocol treatment, 19 underwent hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation. The 1-year overall survival rate was 55% (95% CI, 38% to 69%). Grade 4 neutropenia was observed in 92% of the patients. The most common grade 3 or 4 nonhematologic complication was infection (61%).

Conclusion: SMILE chemotherapy is an effective treatment for newly diagnosed stage IV, relapsed or refractory ENKL. Myelosuppression and infection during the treatment should be carefully managed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Asparaginase / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Extranodal NK-T-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma, Extranodal NK-T-Cell / mortality
  • Lymphoma, Extranodal NK-T-Cell / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nose Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Nose Neoplasms / pathology
  • Recurrence


  • Asparaginase