Purpose: This study attempted to determine the efficacy of the combination of etoposide (VP-16), methyl-prednisolone, and cytarabine (Ara-C) with or without cisplatin in relapsing and refractory adult lymphoma patients.
Patients and methods: The first 63 patients were randomized to receive VP-16 40 mg/m2/d for 4 days, methylprednisolone 500 mg intravenously daily for 5 days, and Ara-C 2 g/m2 intravenously over 2 to 3 hours on day 5 with or without cisplatin 25 mg/m2 IV administered by 24-hour infusion for 4 days (ESHA +/- P). Markedly different responses between ESHA (33%) and ESHAP (75%) led to deletion of the ESHA arm. A total of 122 patients on the ESHAP regimen were studied.
Results: Forty-five patients (37%) attained a complete remission (CR) and 33 (27%) attained a partial remission (PR), for a total response rate of 64%. The median duration of CR was 20 months, with 28% of remitters still in CR at 3 years. The overall median survival duration was 14 months; the survival rate at 3 years was 31%. Overall time to treatment failure (TTF) showed 10% of all patients to be alive and disease-free at 40 months. Response and survival rates were similar in patients with low-grade (n = 34), intermediate-grade (n = 67), transformed (n = 18), and high-grade (n = 3) lymphoma. The most significant factors for response and survival by multivariate analysis were the serum lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) level, tumor burden, and age (when analyzed as a continuous variable), while prior CR was highly significant by univariate analysis. A significant difference in survival was noted for patients with normal LDH levels and low- or intermediate-tumor burden or patients with low tumor burden and elevated LDH levels (55% 3-year survival rate) versus patients with elevated LDH levels and intermediate or high tumor burden (< 20%). Major toxicities included myelosuppression, with a median granulocyte count of 500/microL and platelet count of 70,000/microL.
Conclusion: ESHAP was found to be an active, tolerable chemotherapy regimen for relapsing and refractory lymphoma. Applying a prognostic model based on tumor burden and serum LDH level shows significant differences in survival in this patient population.