Abstract

Rituximab in combination with CHOP-like chemotherapy has demonstrated to improve the results in young and elderly patients with DLBCL compared to chemotherapy alone. Re-treatment with rituximab is feasible in patients with indolent lymphoma, but there is few data on the effect of rituximab in combination with chemotherapy in the re-treatment of relapsed patients with DLBCL who have respond previously to rituximab + chemotherapy. In order to investigate the effect of rituximab in this setting, we have performed a multicenter retrospective study in 50 patients with DLBCL re-treated with rituximab in combination with chemotherapy. We have included in this study 46 patients (31 males, 15 females), median age 60 (range, 20 to 81 years), who achieved CR with the previous rituximab-containing regimen. At initial diagnosis, 32 patients had Ann-Arbor stage III or IV and 20 patients had IPI 3 or 4. The median interval between courses was 14.7 months. The most frequent regimens administered as up-front therapy in combination with rituximab were CHOP-like regimens (30 patients) and the commonest chemotherapy regimens used as salvage therapy were R-ESHAP (20 patients), R-ICE (7 patients), rituximab in combination with gemcitabine-based regimens (4 patients) and TTR (3 patients). The overall response rate in the assessable population was 81% (46% CR, 35% PR). In 25 assessable patients who have received rituximab in combination with chemotherapy as second-line therapy, the overall response rate was 92% (56% CR, 36% PR). The overall response rate was slightly lower in those patients re-treated with rituximab as third-line therapy (78% with 33% CR and 45% PR). The follow-up is too shorter (median 6 months) to assess the impact of re-treatment on duration of remission. The adverse events were not different to those usually observed with these regimens. In conclusion, the re-treatment with rituximab in relapsed patients with DLBCL who had respond previously to rituximab in combination with chemotherapy seems not to compromise the results in terms of response. Logically, larger prospective studies are necessary to confirm these encouraging results.

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