Cardiovascular adverse events in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma treated with first-line cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (CHOP) or CHOP with rituximab (R-CHOP): a systematic review and meta-analysis

Lancet Haematol. 2020 Apr;7(4):e295-e308. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3026(20)30031-4. Epub 2020 Mar 2.


Background: Patients treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are at risk of cardiovascular adverse events, with the risk of heart failure being particularly high. A regimen of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone, with (R-CHOP) or without (CHOP) rituximab is the standard first-line treatment for aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide are both associated with left ventricular dysfunction. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the cardiovascular toxicity of this regimen.

Methods: We systematically searched PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library from database inception to June 3, 2019, for clinical trials and observational studies in adult patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, peripheral T-cell lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma not otherwise specified) that received first-line treatment with R-CHOP or CHOP. Studies reporting on cardiovascular adverse events and treatment-related cardiovascular mortality were included. Abstracts and articles not written in English were excluded. The main outcomes were the proportion of patients with grade 3-4 cardiovascular adverse events and heart failure. Meta-analyses of one-sample proportions were done in all patients receiving CHOP or R-CHOP. Subgroup analyses on summary estimates were done to determine the effect of number of CHOP or R-CHOP cycles, cycle interval, age, and sex.

Findings: Of 2314 identified entries, 137 studies (21 211 patients) published between April, 1984, and June, 2019 were eligible (9541 patients treated with CHOP, 11 293 patients treated with R-CHOP, 377 both regimens used in the study; median follow-up 39·0 months [IQR 25·5-52·8]). From the included studies, 85 subgroups were treated with CHOP, 76 with R-CHOP, and in four studies both CHOP and R-CHOP were used without a subdivision in separate groups. The pooled proportion for grade 3-4 cardiovascular adverse events, based on 77 studies (n=14 351 patients), was 2·35% (95% CI 1·81-2·93; heterogeneity test Q=326·21; τ2=0·0042; I2=71·40%; p<0·0001). For heart failure, the pooled proportion, based on 38 studies (n=5936 patients), was 4·62% (2·25-7·65; heterogeneity test Q=527·33; τ2=0·0384; I2=95·05%; p<0·0001), with a significant increase in reported heart failure from 1·64% (95% CI 0·82-2·65) to 11·72% (3·00-24·53) when cardiac function was evaluated post-chemotherapy (p=0·017). 53 (39%) of 137 studies were rated as having high risk of bias for incomplete outcome data and 54 (39%) for selective reporting.

Interpretation: The considerable increase of reported heart failures with cardiac monitoring, indicates that this complication often remains undiagnosed in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who received first-line R-CHOP or CHOP. Our findings are of importance to raise awareness of this complication among clinicians treating patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and stresses the need for cardiac monitoring during and after chemotherapy. Prompt initiation of treatment for heart failure in the presymptomatic phase can mitigate the progression to more advanced heart failure stages.

Funding: None.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Cyclophosphamide / adverse effects
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / adverse effects
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / drug therapy*
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Prednisone / adverse effects
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Rituximab / administration & dosage*
  • Rituximab / adverse effects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage
  • Vincristine / adverse effects
  • Vincristine / therapeutic use


  • Rituximab
  • Vincristine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisone

Supplementary concepts

  • CHOP protocol