Improving survival and preventing recurrence of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in younger patients: current strategies and future directions
Lionel Karlin, Bertrand Coiffier
Hematology Department, Centre Hospitalier Lyon Sud, Pierre-Benite, France
Abstract: Prognosis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) has considerably improved during the last decade, mainly due to the addition of rituximab to chemotherapy. However, a significant proportion of patients still experience primary refractory disease or short-term relapses, conferring poor survival. Thus, achieving first-line complete remission is of major importance, especially in young and fit patients. Current strategies are based on the age-adapted International Prognostic Index, which separates patients into three prognostic subgroups (low-risk, intermediate-risk, and high-risk). However, it is based only on clinical variables, and we have learned from daily practice that there remains a marked heterogeneity within each subgroup. Recently, biological prognostic factors have emerged, and should now be part of initial evaluation to guide treatment. Among those, so-called double-hit DLBCL with deregulation of both MYC and BCL2 genes usually follows a particularly aggressive course and should be treated more intensively. But for many other patients, the indication of high-dose therapy rather than immunochemotherapy alone remains controversial. In these cases, the interest of an early 18F fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose positron emission tomography evaluation-based strategy is now being assessed in ongoing clinical trials. Moreover, other strategies to improve response and survival consist in adding novel agents to standard chemotherapy. In this field, newly developed anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies and immunomodulatory drugs could be of particular interest during induction therapy to optimize the quality of response, but also in maintenance treatment, in order to decrease the risk of relapse. Only well-conducted clinical trials will be able to resolve all these issues. Therefore, physicians should be encouraged, as far as possible, to propose them to their patients.
Keywords: diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, risk-adapted therapy, prognostic markers, early FDG-PET, novel agents, targeted therapy