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PURPOSE: To examine outcome of treatment for patients with recurrent follicular lymphoma. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Two hundred twelve newly diagnosed follicular lymphoma patients were studied. One hundred seventy-nine were initially treated successfully. Recurrent or progressive lymphoma developed in 116. Treatment was given according to disease stage and current protocols, mostly with single alkylating agents. A policy of repeated lymph node and bone marrow biopsy was pursued. RESULTS: The overall median survival duration was 9 years, with a median follow-up duration of 12 years. Following recurrence, the median survival duration was 4 1/2 years. Only eight of 116 patients with recurrent disease died of causes unrelated to lymphoma. The overall response rate to first re-treatment was 78% and showed slight decline with successive recurrences, reaching 48% after the fourth treatment. The median duration of second remission was 13 months, (v 31 months for first remission), with the only significant predictive factor being quality of remission. Multivariate analysis showed only age at recurrence and number of prior treatments to correlate with survival after first recurrence. Survival after second remission was only correlated with age and quality of response: Kaplan-Meier estimates gave 53% of patients reaching second complete remission alive 10 years later, compared with 28% in partial remission. CONCLUSION: Age and previous and continuing responsiveness of follicular lymphoma to therapy are the principal determinants of survival following recurrence. Improvement in survival with new treatments will be demonstrated most readily in older patients, while more intensive approaches should be tested in younger patients in whom remission is achieved with difficulty.

Original publication




Journal article


J clin oncol

Publication Date





140 - 147


Age Factors, Analysis of Variance, Cause of Death, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Lymphoma, Follicular, Male, Middle Aged, Prognosis, Recurrence, Remission Induction, Survival Analysis, Treatment Outcome