• follicular lymphoma;
  • allogeneic HSCT;
  • autologous HSCT;
  • alemtuzumab


The role of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in relapsed follicular lymphoma remains controversial. This study analysed 126 patients with relapsed, advanced stage follicular lymphoma who received BEAM (BCNU [carmustine], cytarabine, etoposide, melphalan)-alemtuzumab allogeneic HSCT (BEAM-allo) (n = 44) or BEAM-autologous HSCT (BEAM-auto) (n = 82). The BEAM-allo group had a younger median age (48 years vs. 56 years, P < 0·001) but received a higher median number of therapies pretransplant (P = 0·015) compared with the BEAM-auto group. There was a higher non-relapse mortality (NRM) in the BEAM-allo group compared with the BEAM-auto group at 1 year (20% vs. 2%, P = 0·001). Older age and heavily pretreated patients were associated with a higher NRM and poorer survival in the BEAM-allo group. There was, however, a significantly lower relapse rate (20% vs. 43%, P = 0·01) at 3 years with BEAM-alemtuzumab, with no relapses after 2 years, compared with a continued pattern of relapse in the autologous group. No difference in overall survival (OS) (P = 0·99) or disease-free survival (DFS) (P = 0·90) was identified at 3 years, whereas a plateau in OS and DFS with crossing of the survival curves in favour of BEAM-allo group was observed. Furthermore, the ability to re-induce remissions with donor leucocytes provides additional benefit in favour of allogeneic HSCT.