The therapeutic role of mediastinal radiotherapy and stem cell transplantation (SCT) in lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL) remains controversial. In a risk-oriented design, we adopted a flexible treatment program in which (1) patients with persistent mediastinal abnormality, evaluated by post-induction computed chest tomography, received mediastinal irradiation; and (2) those with persistence of minimal residual disease (MRD), evaluated by MRD analysis of the bone marrow, underwent SCT. Twenty-eight out of 30 patients (T-lineage, n = 24; B-lineage, n = 6) achieved a complete response. Of 21 patients with mediastinal mass, 13 (62%) achieved a complete response after chemotherapy alone, while 6 (28.5%) required additional irradiation. Eleven patients were evaluated for MRD: 6 were negative and 5 positive. On the basis of MRD findings and clinical risk characteristics, 14 patients underwent SCT, 13 received maintenance chemotherapy, and 1 had local radiotherapy. Five patients relapsed. Among the 14 non-irradiated patients with T-LL, the mediastinal recurrence rate was only 7%. After a median follow-up of 3.9 years, 21 patients who responded were alive without recurrence (75%). The projected 5-year survival, disease-free survival, and relapse rate were 72%, 77%, and 18%, respectively. This program induced high remission and survival rates, indicating the feasibility and the benefits potentially associated with a selective, response-oriented policy of mediastinal irradiation and a concurrent MRD-based strategy to assign adult LL patients to SCT.
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