Background: Previous studies reported that early progression of disease (POD) after initial therapy predicted poor overall survival (OS) in patients with follicular lymphoma (FL). Here, we investigated whether pre-treatment imaging modality had an impact on prognostic significance of POD. Methods: In this retrospective study, we identified 1088 patients with grade I–IIIA FL; of whom, 238 patients with stage II–IV disease were initially treated with rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone (R-CHOP), and 346 patients were treated with rituximab-based chemotherapy. Patients (N = 484) from the FOLL05 study served as an independent validation cohort. We risk-stratified patients based on pre-treatment radiographic imaging (positron-emission tomography [PET] versus computed tomography [CT]) and early POD status using event-defining and landmark analyses. A competing risk analysis evaluated the association between early POD and histologic transformation. Results: In the discovery cohort, patients with POD within 24 months (PFS24) of initiating R-CHOP therapy had a 5-year OS of 57.6% for CT-staged patients compared with 70.6% for PET-staged patients. In the validation cohort, the 5-year OS for patients with early POD was 53.9% and 100% in CT- and PET-staged patients, respectively. The risk of histologic transformation in patients whose disease progressed within one year of initiating therapy was higher in CT-staged patients than in PET-staged patients (16.7% versus 6.3%, respectively), which was associated with a 9.7-fold higher risk of death. Conclusion: In FL, pre-treatment PET staging reduced the prognostic impact of early POD compared with CT staging. Patients with early POD and no histologic transformation have an extended OS with standard therapy.
- Early progression
- Follicular lymphoma