PURPOSE: To evaluate outcomes and identify prognostic factors in allogeneic bone marrow transplantation in patients with end-stage lymphoma. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Data were retrospectively analyzed of 64 patients (42 men and 22 women) 18 to 48 years of age with recurrent or refractory lymphoma who underwent allogeneic bone marrow transplantation from matched sibling donors (or in 1 case from a one antigen-mismatched relative) between May 1981 and July 1994. RESULTS: Twelve patients survived free of disease. They were 8 of 15 with low-grade lymphoma (disease-free survival at 2 years 59% ± 13%); 3 of 25 with lymphoblastic lymphoma (disease-free survival 17% ± 8%); and 1 of 10 with diffuse small non-cleaved cell lymphoma (disease-free survival 10% ± 9%). Survival and disease-free survival of patients with low-grade lymphoma were significantly superior compared to any other subgroup of patients (P <0.01). Only 2 patients with low-grade lymphoma had disease progression (9% ± 9% actuarial risk at 2 years) as opposed to 5 of 15 with intermediate-grade lymphoma (39% ± 14%), 9 of 25 with lymphoblastic lymphoma (28% ± 9%), and 8 of 10 (80% ± 13%) with diffuse small non-cleaved lymphoma. The actuarial risk for disease progression was significantly lower for patients with low-grade lymphoma than for any other histologic subgroup (P <0.02). It was significantly higher for those with diffuse small non- cleaved cell lymphoma than for other histologic subgroups (P ≤0.003). CONCLUSIONS: Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation is an effective procedure in patients with refractory low-grade lymphoma. It results in long-term remissions and should be considered in younger patients with recurrent disease who have a matched sibling donor. The late recurrence in 1 patient indicates the necessity of continued follow-up. A small fraction of patients with end-stage intermediate- and high-grade lymphoma can obtain prolonged disease-free survival, but recurrence and regimen-related toxicity remain major problems. The results could be improved by the development of conditioning regimens with less toxicity and by the use of bone marrow transplantation earlier in the course of the disease.
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