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Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Low-Stage Childhood NHL Treatment

    Patients with stage I and II disease have an excellent prognosis, regardless of histology. A Children's Cancer Group study demonstrated that pulsed chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide, vincristine, methotrexate, and prednisone (COMP) administered for 6 months for low-stage (stage I or II) nonlymphoblastic non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) was equivalent to 18 months of therapy with radiation to sites of disease, resulting in more than 85% disease-free survival (DFS) and more than 90% overall survival (OS). However, patients with lymphoblastic lymphoma had a much inferior outcome.[1,2] A Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) study tested 9 weeks of short, pulsed chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (CHOP), with or without radiation to involved sites and with or without 24 weeks of maintenance chemotherapy.[3] The results showed no benefit of radiation or maintenance chemotherapy, but the DFS for nonlymphoblastic lymphoma was superior to that of lymphoblastic lymphoma (90% vs. 60%).

    For low-stage mature B-cell NHL (Burkitt lymphoma or diffuse large B-cell lymphoma), DFS is about 95%. The Berlin-Frankfurt-Munster (BFM) group has treated risk group R1 (completely resected disease) with two cycles of multiagent chemotherapy (GER-GPOH-NHL-BFM-90 and GER-GPOH-NHL-BFM-95).[4,5] For unresected stage I/II disease (R2), patients received a cytoreductive phase followed by five cycles of chemotherapy.[4,5] In the NHL-BFM-90 study, it was shown that reducing the dose of methotrexate did not affect the results for low-stage disease.[4] In NHL-BFM-95, it was demonstrated for low-stage disease that prolonging the duration of methotrexate infusion did not improve outcome.[5] The French Society of Pediatric Oncology (SFOP) and French-American-British (FAB) studies have treated all completely resected stage I and abdominal stage II (group A) with two cycles of multiagent chemotherapy, without intrathecal chemotherapy (COG-C5961 [FAB/LMB-96]).[6][Level of evidence: 2A] For unresected stage I/II disease (group B), the above-mentioned FAB study demonstrated that reducing the duration of therapy to four cycles of chemotherapy following a cytoreduction phase and reducing the cumulative doses of cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin did not affect outcome.[7]

    For low-stage lymphoblastic lymphoma (stage I/II disease), about 60% of patients can achieve long-term DFS with short, pulsed chemotherapy.[2,3] However, with the use of an acute lymphoblastic leukemia approach with induction, consolidation, and maintenance therapy for a total of 24 months, DFS rates higher than 90% have been reported for children with low-stage lymphoblastic lymphoma.[8,9,10]

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