Impact of involved field radiotherapy in partial response after doxorubicin-based chemotherapy for advanced aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Elizabeth C. Moser, Hanneke C. Kluin-Nelemans, Patrice Carde, Jacobus H. Meerwaldt, Umberto Tirelli, Berthe M P Aleman, Joke Baars, José Thomas, Martine van Glabbeke, Evert M. Noordijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Whether salvage therapy in patients with advanced aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in partial remission (PR) should consist of radiotherapy or autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT) is debatable. We evaluated the impact of radiotherapy on outcome in PR patients treated in four successive European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer trials for aggressive NHL. Patients and Methods: Records of 974 patients (1980-1999) were reviewed regarding initial response, final outcome, and type and timing of salvage treatment. After 8 cycles of doxorubicin-based chemotherapy, 227 NHL patients were in PR and treated: 114 received involved field radiotherapy, 16 ASCT, 93 second-line chemotherapy, and 4 were operated. Overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) after radiotherapy were estimated (Kaplan-Meier method) and compared with other treatments (log-rank). Impact on survival was evaluated by multivariate analysis (Cox proportional hazards model). Results: The median PFS in PR patients was 4.2 years and 48% remained progression-free at 5 years. Half of the PR patients converted to a complete remission. After conversion, survival was comparable to patients directly in complete remission. Radiotherapy resulted in better OS and PFS compared with other treatments, especially in patients with low to intermediate International Prognostic Index score, bulky disease, or nodal disease only. Correction by multivariate analysis for prognostic factors such as stage, bulky disease, and number of extranodal locations showed that radiotherapy was clearly the most significant factor affecting both OS and PFS. Conclusion: This retrospective analysis demonstrates that radiotherapy can be effective for patients in PR after fully dosed chemotherapy; assessment in a randomized trial (radiotherapy vs. ASCT) is justified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1168-1177
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2006


  • Aggressive Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Partial response
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


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