Autologous Hematopoetic Cell Transplant (AuHCT) is the treatment of choice for patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma. Approximately 40–60% of patients achieve a durable response and possible cure after the transplant with progressive disease accounts for most of the treatment failures. CAT scan +/− PET scan are usually performed before AuHCT and repeated post-transplant to assess responses. As part of the long term follow-up; post-transplant surveillance CAT scan +/− PET scan are often performed with intent to detect early disease progression and possible early intervention. Here, we attempt to evaluate the utility of this approach by examining the patterns of treatment failures for patients with Hodgkin Lymphoma who received AuHCT.
A retrospective chart review was performed. Between 01/94 and 12/06, 55 consecutive patients with refractory or relapsed Hodgkin Lymphoma underwent autologous HCT at our institution. All patients underwent a CAT scan and FDG-PET before AuHCT and approximately 2–3 months following the transplant to evaluate the response to HCT. As part of the long-term follow-up; post-transplant surveillance CAT scan were performed every 3–6 months for 2–3 years, then every 6–12 months up to 5 years post-transplant.
A total of 55 patients were followed post autologous HCT. The median age at HCT was 32 (ranging from 15–66); 27 were male. Seventeen patients had primary progressive HL and 38 had relapsed HL. Eighteen patients had extra-nodal disease at disease progression. With a minimal follow-up of 4 years (range 4 to 7 years) for living patients; 40 patients are alive and well with no evidence of disease. Thirteen patients developed disease progression after transplant at a median of 3 months (range 0 – 32 months) post-HCT. All the disease progression developed within the first 7 months after transplant except 2 who developed late relapse 28 and 32 months post-HCT. Fifteen patients died with 10 from progressive disease and 5 from non-relapse causes: auto accident: 1, breast cancer (incident diagnosed of late recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma): 1, AML:1 and 2 from chronic graft versus host disease after salvage allogeneic HCT. All 55 patients underwent PET scan evaluation 2–3 months after HCT to evaluate post-HCT responses. Twenty-nine patients had no evidence of PET activity post transplant, while 26 patients had evidence of activity. While there were 2 subsequent progressions in the PET negative group (1 of them was a late relapse), there were 9 progressions in the PET positive group. The 5-years estimated survival was 65%.
In summary: 1) Most of the disease progressions after AuHCT for relapsed and refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma occurred within the first seven months after the transplant and were associated with abnormal first post-transplant CT +/− PET scan. Thus, the utility of long term surveillance radiological studies is very limited and is not recommended. 2) With longer follow-up, long-term complications including second cancer replace disease as the primary cause of treatment failure. This underscores the importance of long-term follow-up for HCT long-term survivors.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.