Context and objective

Approximately 5-10% of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients carry MYC gene translocations (MYC-translocation+) with a poor prognosis after standard chemotherapy. MYC-translocation+ DLBCL patients carrying BCL2 translocations (MYC+/BCL2+ double-hit lymphoma) have a worse survival. The efficacy of adjuvant radiotherapy in this setting is unknown. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of radiotherapy as a part of the therapeutic regimen for patients with MYC-translocation+ DLBCL.

Patients and methods

From the International DLBCL R-CHOP consortium program, we selected 581 patients with de novo DLBCL treated with standard R-CHOP immunochemotherapy (diagnosed and treated from 2000 to 2010). We excluded patients with transformed DLBCL, primary mediastinal, cutaneous, testicular or central nervous system large B-cell lymphomas, patients with HIV infection, and patients not treated with R-CHOP. The median follow-up was 54.9 months. Fluorescence in situ hybridization assessing MYC was performed for all the patients (n=581) and results were correlated with available clinical data to identify clinicopathologic features associated with MYC translocation, and to evaluate the prognostic significance of MYC translocations regarding overall survival (OS, from the time of diagnosis to death from any cause) and progression-free survival (PFS, from the time of diagnosis to relapse or death from any cause). In the MYC-translocation+ DLBCL group, 38 patients received chemotherapy alone and 21 patients received chemotherapy with adjuvant radiation therapy. The clinicopathologic features and survival of MYC-translocation+ DLBCL patients treated with (n=21) and without radiotherapy (n=38) after immunochemotherapy were compared to in order to evaluate the radiotherapy efficacy and other confounding factors.


MYC translocations were detected in 59 DLBCL patients (10.2%). Patients with MYC-translocation+ DLBCL more often had bulky tumors, involvement of multiple extranodal sites, and poorer OS (hazard ratio [HR]: 2.0, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.20 - 3.35, P= .0083) and PFS (HR: 1.96, 95% CI: 1.22 - 3.13, P= .0005) independent of the International Prognostic Index score. Poor survival was primarily attributable to patients with MYC+/BCL2+ double-hit DLBCL who were predominantly of germinal center B-cell subtype. Among MYC-translocation+ DLBCL patients, a better survival was achieved in patients who received radiotherapy (for OS, HR: .32, 95% CI: .15 - .71, P= .0049; for PFS, HR: .35, 95% CI: .17 - .73, P= .0043). Conversely, radiotherapy abolished the adverse impact of MYC translocations. In addition, radiotherapy was associated with better survival in the subset of patients with MYC+/BCL2+ double-hit lymphoma (P = .017 for OS, and P = .05 for PFS). However, owing to the common use of radiotherapy as consolidation therapy, the favorable prognoses in the group of patients who received radiotherapy could also be attributed to limited-stage disease and more frequent complete remission (CR) after first-line treatment and therefore these factors confound interpretation of the data. To address these issues, we evaluated radiotherapy efficacy in separate patient groups: patients who achieved CR, non-CR (PR/SD/PD) patients, and patient with stage I/II, or stage III/IV disease. The efficacy of radiotherapy appeared more apparent in patients with advanced disease who did not achieve CR after first-line chemotherapy. Multivariate analysis after adjustment for stage and IPI score validated that radiotherapy significantly improved OS (HR: .28, 95% CI: .10 - .81, P= .018) and PFS (HR: .32, 95% CI: .13 - .80, P= .015) of MYC-translocation+ DLBCL patients.


The presence of MYC translocations in DLBCL is an important biomarker that facilitates prognostic prediction and treatment stratification independent of the IPI score. For chemoresistant MYC-translocation+ DLBCL patients, radiotherapy seems to be an effective adjuvant regimen likely due to the higher frequency of extranodal involvement and bulky disease in MYC-translocation+ DLBCL patients. Our results provide a rationale for larger scale studies to assess the potential role of radiotherapy in the management of MYC-translocation+ DLBCL patients, particularly patients with MYC+/BCL2+double-hit DLBCL.


Winter:Millenium: Research Funding; Novartis : Research Funding; Pfizer (Wyeth): Research Funding; Seattle Genetics: Research Funding; Spectrum: Research Funding; Janssen (Pharmacyclics): Research Funding; Spectrum (Allos): Consultancy; Sanofi Aventis: Consultancy; Tgen: Consultancy; AMBIT Biosciences (Spouse): Research Funding; Celgene (Spouse): DSMB, DSMB Other, Research Funding; Ariad Pharmaceuticals (Spouse): Research Funding; Novartis (Spouse): Consultancy, Research Funding; Amgen (Spouse): Consultancy, Research Funding; Astellas (Spouse): Research Funding; Caremark/CVS: Consultancy; Pfizer (Spouse): Consultancy; Sanofi Aventis (Spouse): DSMB, DSMB Other; Bristol Myers Squibb (Spouse): DSMB, DSMB Other; UptoDate, Inc.(Spouse): Patents & Royalties.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

This icon denotes a clinically relevant abstract