Key Points

  • Patients with advanced DLBCL who have a negative EOT PET scan have an excellent prognosis without RT.

  • PET-POS patients with nonprogressing disease given RT at EOT have better-than-expected outcomes, providing rationale for this approach.

Abstract

Consolidative radiation therapy (RT) for advanced-stage diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) remains controversial, with routine practice continuing to include RT in patients with initial bulky disease or residual masses. Positron emission tomography (PET)-computed tomography is a sensitive modality for detecting the presence of residual disease at the end of treatment (EOT). A PET-guided approach to selectively administering RT has been the policy in British Columbia since 2005. Patients with advanced-stage DLBCL diagnosed from 1 January 2005 to 1 March 2017 and treated with at least 6 cycles of R-CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisolone plus rituximab), who underwent EOT PET, were included in this analysis. Those with complete metabolic response (PET-negative [PET-NEG]) were observed; those with PET-positive (PET-POS) scans were offered consolidative RT, when feasible. Of the patient records reviewed, 723 were identified, with median follow-up of 4.3 years: 517 (72%) were PET-NEG; 206 (28%) were PET-POS. Time to progression (TTP) and overall survival (OS) at 3 years were 83% vs 56% and 87% vs 64%, in patients with PET-NEG and PET-POS scans, respectively. PET-POS patients with nonprogressing disease treated with consolidative RT (109 and 206; 53%) had outcomes approaching those of PET-NEG patients, with 3-year estimates of 76% and 80% for TTP and OS. PET-NEG patients who had bulky disease (≥10 cm) at diagnosis had outcomes indistinguishable from those without bulk, despite the omission of RT. These data suggest that patients with advanced-stage DLBCL who are PET-NEG at EOT and receive no RT have excellent outcomes. 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose-PET can reliably guide selective administration of consolidative RT, even in patients with initially bulky disease.

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