A regimen which incorporates cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisolone (CHOP) is the standard treatment for patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), but it has not been effective in patients with aggressive NHL who are at high risk. The aim of the present trial was to investigate the feasibility of high-dose chemotherapy (HDC) without stem cell support as a first-line treatment. The primary endpoint was a complete remission rate. The second endpoint was survival. Fourteen patients with aggressive NHL entered the study and were treated according to the K93 protocol (3 cycles of CHOP, high-dose etoposide and ifosfamide, and high-dose methotrexate). Eleven patients (79%) achieved complete remission (CR) and two (14%) achieved partial remission (PR). Overall survival (OS) after five years was 79%. The actuarial five year disease free survival (DFS) for the eleven cases of CR was 75%. During chemotherapy, grade IV hematologic toxicity was observed in all patients and grade IV non-hematologic toxicity in only one patient, who experienced oral ulcers. Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) apheresis was performed in eight cases. One harvesting was enough to provide an adequate number of CD34+ cells for the subsequent PBSC transplantation (PBSCT). In conclusion our study confined the efficacy of the K93 protocol in obtaining a good response (CR + PR) rate and a very good DFS rate in most cases of aggressive NHL, with acceptable toxicity. This regimen may improve the outcome in cases of aggressive NHL without stem cell support. It seems worthwhile to conduct a randomized controlled study comparing the K93 protocol with the standard CHOP regimen.
- Autologous stem cell transplantation
- High-doss chemotherapy
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma