Haematological support of high-dose sequential chemotherapy: Clinical evidence for reduction of toxicity and high response rates in poor risk lymphomas

C. Tarella, P. Gavarotti, D. Caracciolo, P. Corradini, C. Cherasco, C. Castellino, E. Gallo, A. Pileri

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The toxicity and feasibility of a high-dose sequential (HDS) chemotherapy programme delivered with growth factor support were evaluated in patients with intermediate and high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) or with progressive Hodgkin's disease. The scheme includes the sequential administration of single cytotoxic drugs at very high doses followed by intensified treatment with circulating progenitor autograft. In some instances, the original HDS scheme, initially designed at the Milan Cancer Center, was partially modified and intensified with a preliminary debulking phase. The use of G-CSF (filgrastim) made toxicity in the high-dose phase acceptable and allowed good harvests of peripheral blood progenitor cells (PBPC); the use of PBPC in the final autografting phase resulted in low haematological toxicity. Of 71 patients with NHL treated at our institution with either the original or the intensified HDS version, the overall toxicity-related mortality was 5.6%, thus comparable to lethal toxicity commonly associated with conventional chemotherapy. Adequate PBPC harvests are crucial for good tolerability of the programme. Optimal harvests are generally obtained in patients without neoplastic marrow infiltration, while patients with marrow disease often have a poorer mobilisation. However, an optimally time-spaced chemotherapy debulking might also restore sufficient mobilisation in these latter patients. In terms of therapeutic efficacy, HDS has produced promising results since the initial experience in relapsed patients. More recently, HDS was evaluated as first-line treatment in a series of 22 consecutive patients, presenting with advanced-stage, intermediate-grade NHL other than diffuse large cell subtype. A CR rate of 82% was obtained following HDS, with a projected survival of 86% at five years. Thus, delivery of an intensive high-dose chemotherapy programme with haematopoietic growth factor support was found to be feasible and reasonably safe. The high antitumour efficacy of such a scheme makes it suitable for wider applicability in all those chemosensitive tumours where a dose increase might enhance the chance of cure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue numberSUPPL. 4
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • Circulating haematopoietic progenitors
  • G-CSF
  • High-dose sequential chemotherapy
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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