Autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT) has been used in follicular lymphoma (FL) to achieve durable responses in first remission or in the relapsed or refractory settings. Addition of rituximab to chemotherapy for FL has been shown to improve survival. The impact of prior therapy with rituximab upon the effectiveness of high-dose therapy (HDT) and ASCT in patients with FL is unknown. We retrospectively reviewed consecutive patients with FL who underwent HDT and ASCT. Patients were categorized according to prior therapy with rituximab. Outcomes were compared between groups in all patients and in a well-matched subset. In all 35 patients received prior rituximab and 71 rituximab-naive patients were analyzed. The rituximab-naive group had a median overall survival (OS) that was not reached during follow-up, with a median relapse-free (RFS) survival of 49.9 months. The prior rituximab group also did not reach median OS and had a median RFS of 24.6 months. Survivals were not significantly different in this group or in the well-matched subset. In conclusion, these results suggest that the use of rituximab-based regimens for the treatment of FL does not compromise the effectiveness of HDT and ASCT as a salvage strategy in patients with FL.
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