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. 2019 Aug 29;134(9):761-764.
doi: 10.1182/blood.2019000258. Epub 2019 Jul 12.

Early Progression After Bendamustine-Rituximab Is Associated With High Risk of Transformation in Advanced Stage Follicular Lymphoma

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Early Progression After Bendamustine-Rituximab Is Associated With High Risk of Transformation in Advanced Stage Follicular Lymphoma

Ciara L Freeman et al. Blood. .

Abstract

Despite widespread use of bendamustine and rituximab (BR) as frontline therapy for advanced-stage follicular lymphoma (FL), little is known about the risk of early progression or incidence of histological transformation. We performed a retrospective analysis of a population-based cohort of 296 patients with advanced-stage FL treated with frontline BR and maintenance rituximab. As previously demonstrated, outcomes with this regimen are excellent, with 2-year event-free survival estimated at 85% (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 80-89) and 2-year overall survival 92% (95% CI, 88-95). Progression of disease within 24 months (POD24) occurred in 13% of patients and was associated with a significantly inferior outcome with 2-year overall survival of 38% (95% CI, 20-55). The only significant risk factor for POD24 at baseline was elevated lactate dehydrogenase (P < .001). Importantly, the majority of POD24 patients (76%) had transformed disease. Compared with a historical cohort treated with rituximab, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone, event-free survival has improved and the risk of POD24 has decreased, but a higher proportion of patients with POD24 harbor transformation. The overall incidence of transformation appears unchanged. The presence of occult or early transformation is the main driver of POD24 in FL patients treated with frontline BR. Identification of biomarkers and improved management strategies for transformation will be crucial to improving outcomes.

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