Early versus late intensification for patients with high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma—3 Cycles of intensive chemotherapy plus low-dose lymph node radiation therapy versus 4 cycles of combined doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine plus myeloablative chemotherapy with autologous stem cell transplantation: Five-year results of a randomized trial on behalf of the GOELAMS group

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The 5-year freedom from treatment failure (FFTF) rate, with treatment failure defined as the lack of post-treatment complete remission (CR), recurrence, or death, ranges from 60% to 70% after 6 to 8 cycles of combined doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (ABVD), which is the reference treatment for patients with advanced Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). In this randomized, phase 2 study, the authors tested 2 intensive chemotherapy regimens in 158 patients with clinical stage (CS) IIB through IV HL accompanied by high-risk factors who were recruited between May 1997 and December 2004.


High-risk CS IIB, III, and IV were defined by the presence of ≥5 involved lymphoid areas, and/or a mediastinal mass ratio ≥0.45, and/or ≥2 extra lymph node sites affected by the disease (for CS IV). In Arm V, 82 patients received 3 courses of combined vindesine (5 mg/m2), doxorubicin (99 mg/m2), carmustine (140 mg/m2), etoposide (600 mg/m2), and methylprednisolone (600 mg/m2) (VABEM) followed by low-dose lymph node irradiation. In Arm A, 76 patients received 4 cycles of ABVD followed by myeloablative combined carmustine (300 mg/m2), etoposide (800 mg/m2), cytarabine (1600 mg/m2), and melphalan (140 mg/m2) and underwent autologous stem cell transplantation.


After 3 cycles of VABEM, the CR rate was 89% versus 60% after 4 cycles of ABVD. However, after the completion of treatment, the CR rates for Arms V and A were similar (89% and 88%, respectively). The 5-year FFTF rates for Arms V and A also were similar (79% and 75%, respectively) along with the 5-year overall survival rates (87% and 86%, respectively).


Early intensification (Arm V) and late intensification (Arm A) were equally effective for treating patients with high-risk/advanced HL. Cancer 2008. © 2008 American Cancer Society.

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