Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for follicular lymphoma: optimal timing and indication

J Clin Exp Hematop. 2014;54(1):39-47. doi: 10.3960/jslrt.54.39.


The definitive management of advanced follicular lymphoma (FL) remains controversial due to various treatment options, including watchful waiting, single-agent or combination chemotherapy, monoclonal antibody, and radioimmunotherapy. These options can provide prolonged progression-free survival. However, they cannot cure advanced FL. Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) remains the sole curative therapy for FL. Allo-SCT has had a major impact with the use of reduced-intensity conditioning regimens because of its lower associated nonrelapse mortality compared with myeloablative regimens. Autologous SCT (auto-SCT) shows high response rates and extends progression-free survival in patients with chemosensitive relapse. In the rituximab era, however, associated comorbidities, risk of secondary cancers, and presence of refractory disease have become problematic in the auto-SCT population. On the basis of results from large-scale randomized trials, upfront auto-SCT is not recommended. Novel conditioning regimens including radioimmunotherapy followed by either auto-SCT or allo-SCT are likely to show efficacy even in chemorefractory disease. Consequently, the optimal timing for SCT remains a matter of opinion, except for patients in first remission. However, the outcomes of allo-SCT and auto-SCT keep on improving. Physicians should note that there is no therapy with a track record equivalent to that of SCT for relapsed or refractory FL.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Follicular / therapy*
  • Recurrence
  • Transplantation Conditioning
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Transplantation, Homologous