High-dose intensification and autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT) is widely used to consolidate patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), who have reached a stage of minimal residual disease. However, patients with persisting marrow and/or blood involvement and those who fail peripheral blood hemopoietic progenitor mobilization are excluded from ASCT. For such patients with no available graft to infuse, we developed 15 years ago, before the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody therapeutic era, the use of the BEAM pretransplant regimen followed only by the administration of three cytokines (erythropoietin, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor). We report here on the long-term follow-up of 33 patients treated with this approach. In all, 33 NHL patients underwent the BEAM (carmustine, VP-16, cytosine-arabinoside, melphalan) followed by the administration of the three cytokines from January 1994-2000. A backup marrow, albeit infiltrated by tumor cells, had been collected earlier and stored in all. A total of 30 patients (91%) recovered normal hematopoiesis. In total, 32 patients (97%) recovered neutrophils (>500/μl) at a median of 19 days and 30 patients (91%) recovered platelets (>20000/μl) at a median of 26 days. Age, richness of backup graft and blood-hemoglobin level at intensification had an impact on the time for hematopoietic recovery (P=0.014, P=0.014, P=0.048). The median follow-up was 62 months. Five patients died from toxicity related to the procedure. Eight patients relapsed and died. A total of 20 patients (61%) are alive, 16 (49%) in complete remission. A 5-year disease-free survival was 52±9%, relapse incidence 35±16%, mortality due to the procedure 12±12% and overall survival 61±10%. The BEAM regimen is not myeloablative. The BEAM + 3CK procedure is a feasible therapeutic option that has shown efficacy in poor risk NHL patients who were not eligible for autografting because of persisting marrow/blood tumor contamination, or poor hemopoietic progenitor harvesting. It is unclear today whether some of these patients would have cleared their marrow/peripheral blood with the additional use of anti-CD20 treatment, thereby making the classical approach (BEAM followed by the infusion of a clean autograft) feasible.
- Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor
- Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Transplantation conditioning