In studies of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, positron emission tomography with [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET) performed after two to four cycles of chemotherapy has demonstrated prognostic significance. However, some patients treated with immunochemotherapy experience a favorable long-term outcome despite a positive interim FDG-PET scan. To clarify the significance of interim FDG-PET scans, we prospectively studied interim FDG-positive disease within a risk-adapted sequential immunochemotherapy program.
Patients and Methods
From March 2002 to November 2006, 98 patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center received induction therapy with four cycles of accelerated R-CHOP (rituximab + cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone) followed by an interim FDG-PET scan. If the FDG-PET scan was negative, patients received three cycles of ICE (ifosfamide, carboplatin, and etoposide) consolidation therapy. If residual FDG-positive disease was seen, patients underwent biopsy; if the biopsy was negative, they also received three cycles of ICE. Patients with a positive biopsy received ICE followed by autologous stem-cell transplantation.
At a median follow-up of 44 months, overall and progression-free survival were 90% and 79%, respectively. Ninety-seven patients underwent interim FDG-PET scans; 59 had a negative scan, 51 of whom are progression free. Thirty-eight patients with FDG-PET–positive disease underwent repeat biopsy; 33 were negative, and 26 remain progression free after ICE consolidation therapy. Progression-free survival of interim FDG-PET–positive/biopsy-negative patients was identical to that in patients with a negative interim FDG-PET scan (P = .27).
Interim or post-treatment FDG-PET evaluation did not predict outcome with this dose-dense, sequential immunochemotherapy program. Outside of a clinical trial, we recommend biopsy confirmation of an abnormal interim FDG-PET scan before changing therapy.