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Follicular lymphoma in early stages: high risk of relapse and usefulness of the Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index to predict the outcome of patients


A. López-Guillermo, MD, Department of Hematology, Hospital Clínic, Villarroel 170, 08036 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34-932275575
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Abstract: Background and objectives: Patients with follicular lymphoma (FL) in advanced stages are currently deemed incurable with standard treatments. However, FL is considered to be eradicable in the small group of patients presenting with localized disease. The objective of this study was to analyze the clinical features and the outcome of a series of patients with FL in early stages with a long follow-up.Patients and methods: A total of 48 patients (25m/23f; median age: 50 yr) diagnosed consecutively with FL in Ann Arbor stage I (25 cases) or II (23) at a single institution with a median follow-up of 9.5 yr were included in the study. Main biological and clinical characteristics at diagnosis, including Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index (FLIPI) were analyzed; treatment and response were assessed and analyzed for prognosis.Results: The histologic subtypes were: FL type I, 20 cases (42%); type II, 24 (50%); type III, three (6%); and unclassifiable, one (2%). Distribution according to FLIPI was: low risk (36 cases) and intermediate risk (five cases). Treatment mainly consisted of combination chemotherapy (CHOP in 34 cases) plus involved-field radiotherapy in 26 cases. Forty patients (89%) achieved a complete response (CR), three (7%) a partial response, and two (4%) were non-responders; the remaining three patients did not receive therapy. No initial variable predicted CR achievement. About 57% of the patients in CR eventually relapsed with a relapse risk of 46% at 10 yr. Intermediate-risk FLIPI predicted failure-free survival. Histologic transformation was observed in six patients with a 10-yr risk of transformation of 13%. Twelve patients died during follow-up, in two cases as a result of unrelated causes. Overall survival (OS) at 10 yr was 79%. The FLIPI was the sole variable predicting OS.Conclusions: Although the majority of patients with localized FL achieve CR, the risk of relapse is high. The FLIPI is of prognostic value in these patients.