Analyzing the risk factors for disease progression within 2 years and histological transformation in patients treated with rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone as first-line treatment: A 15-year follow-up of patients with advanced follicular lymphoma in JCOG0203

Hematol Oncol. 2024 May;42(3):e3272. doi: 10.1002/hon.3272.


Follicular lymphoma (FL) is an indolent lymphoma that becomes aggressive due to histological transformation (HT), leading to reduced survival. Patients with FL have different clinical courses and various treatment options. Some patients exhibit shorter survival and experience disease progression within 24 months of diagnosis/treatment (POD24); the optimal treatment remains an unmet needs. Thus, identifying factors that predict shorter survival is essential to stratify treatment and prolong the survival of patients with FL. To analyze risk factors for POD24 and HT in patients treated with rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP) as first-line treatment, we performed this post-hoc analysis of patients with advanced indolent B-cell lymphoma in a randomized clinical trial wherein six cycles of R-CHOP were administered every 2-3 weeks. The primary analysis showed no differences in outcomes, which enabled the analysis of 248 patients with FL, assigned to two arms. All histopathological specimens from the 300 enrolled patients were reviewed by three expert hematopathologists. Multivariable analysis implicated Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index (FLIPI) intermediate (odds ratio [OR] 2.531, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.676-9.466) and high- (OR 2.236, 95% CI 0.160-31.226) risks, B symptoms (OR 2.091, 95% CI 0.747-5.851), and grade 3A (G3A) (OR 1.833, 95% CI 0.634-5.299) as risk factors for POD24. Furthermore, multivariable analysis through a median follow-up of 15.9 years implicated G3A (OR 2.628, 95% CI 0.806-8.575) and high-risk FLIPI (OR 4.401, 95% CI 0.186-104.377) as risk factors for HT. However, an analysis limited to the first 10 years revealed that the prognostic factors elucidated from the longer-term analysis had a greater impact on HT. G3A and high-risk FLIPI may independently predict POD24 and HT, thereby informing treatment stratification of patients with untreated advanced-stage FL in future trials, particularly to address the unmet needs of patients with POD24.

Keywords: POD24; follicular lymphoma; histological transformation; immunochemotherapy; long term; survival.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Cyclophosphamide / adverse effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Follicular*
  • Prednisone / adverse effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use
  • Vincristine / adverse effects


  • Rituximab
  • Vincristine
  • Prednisone
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Doxorubicin