Introduction: Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a mature B-cell lymphoma comprising up 5% of non-Hodgkins lymphomas. Although the prognosis for MCL patients has improved in recent years, the outlook for those with advanced or recurrent disease remains poor and the role of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is unclear. The HyperCVAD-M/A regimen (fractionated high-dose cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin and prednisolone alternated with methotraxate and cytarabine) has yielded encouraging results when combined with autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT). In an effort to improve these results further, we have combined rituximab in vivo purging and post-transplant consolidation with HyperCVAD-M/A plus ASCT.

Methods: Patients aged <65 years with previously untreated or relapsed MCL were treated with four courses of HyperCVAD-M/A followed by four once-weekly doses of rituximab 375mg/m2 as purging prior to stem cell mobilization and harvesting, high-dose chemotherapy (ICT-CY or BEAM), stem cell reinfusion and four further doses of rituximab immunotherapy post-transplant.

Results: Of the 40 patients enrolled so far, 20 (15 male, 5 female; 18 previously untreated) have been transplanted. The median age was 50 years (range 38–63 years). After the final post-ASCT immunotherapy all 20 patients were in clinical complete remission. With a median follow-up of 36 months from diagnosis (range 7–64 months), 18 patients remain alive with 13 in complete remission. One patient died 15 months post-ASCT without evidence of disease recurrence. Kaplan-Meier estimates of 5-year overall and event-free survival are 90% and 65% respectively.

Conclusions: This approach seems safe and feasible and produces durable remissions; longer follow-up of a more patients will be required to assess the effect of the procedure on survival.

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