Peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCLs) are a heterogeneous group of rare diseases, characterized by an aggressive behavior and a poor clinical outcome. High-dose therapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) has been used as salvage and upfront treatment with conflicting results. However, no standard therapy has so far been established due to the lack of randomized studies.

The records of 54 untreated patients with a confirmed diagnosis of PTCL managed at our Institute between 2001 and 2011 were reviewed. The histologic subtypes were: 37 (68%) peripheral T-cell lymphomas unspecified (PTCL-U), 13 (24%) anaplastic large cell lymphomas (ALCL), of which 4 (30%) ALK-positive, 2 (4%) angio-immunoblastic lymphomas (AITL) and 2 (4%) enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphomas (EATL). The clinical characteristics were: median age 56 years (range 18-79); 40 men and 14 women; 13 (24%) and 41 (76%) patients were, respectively, in Ann Arbor stages I-II and III-IV. An elevated serum LDH was present in 33% of patients, 48% had B symptoms and 24% had a bone marrow involvement. The ECOG performance status was 2-3 in 28% of patients. According to the International Prognostic Index (IPI) and the prognostic index for T-cell lymphomas (PIT), 11% and 22% were classified as low risk, 30% and 33% as low-intermediate risk, 12% and 33% as high-intermediate risk and 29% and 12% as high risk, respectively. CHOP-like regimens were given to 32 (59%) patients, 14 of whom received the CHOEP regimen. The remaining 22 (41%) patients were treated with more intensive third generation regimens (MACOP-B like). ASCT was planned as upfront consolidation therapy for 16/54 (30%) patients.

A complete response (CR) was obtained in 30/54 (55.5%) patients, a partial response in 7 (13%), while 17 (31.5%) patients showed a lymphoma progression during induction therapy. No difference in terms of CR rate was observed between the CHOP-like and MACOP-B-like regimens. At a median follow-up of 19 months (range 3-138), the 5-years OS and 5-years PFS were 32% (95% CI 25.3-38.5) and 27% (95% CI 20.2-34.5), respectively. At univariate analysis, bone marrow involvement (p=0.003), PIT high risk group (p<0.001) and lymphocytopenia (p=0.06) predicted a shorter PFS. Five of 16 (31%) patients did not receive the planned ASCT consolidation due to early progression. Patients who received an ASCT as consolidation therapy presented a slightly better 5-year PFS than patients treated with chemotherapy alone (95% CI 37.7% vs 25%; p=0.08).

The prognosis of PTCLs remains poor despite the use of intensive chemotherapy regimen including upfront ASCT. More active induction chemotherapy regimens, including novel agents, should be designed in an attempt to increase the quality of response before ASCT consolidation therapy.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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