Purpose: Our objective was to evaluate the impact of high-dose therapy and autologous bone marrow transplantation as salvage treatment for recurrent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in a defined group of patients from the Nebraska Lymphoma Study Group. Design: Patients treated initially by oncologists from the Nebraska Lymphoma Study Group between January 1983 and July 1987 who subsequently underwent autologous bone marrow transplantation for recurrent or refractory disease were evaluated for treatment outcome. Patients: Twenty-five patients with relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin's lymphoma underwent high-dose therapy and autologous stem cell infusion in the time period reviewed. An initial doxorubicin (Adriamycin)-containing chemotherapy regimen had failed in all patients. The most favorable subgroup included 17 patients who were less then 60 years of age and had received no chemotherapy beyond their initial doxorubicin-containing regimen when referred for bone marrow transplantation. Results: The complete response rate to the highdose therapy was 52%, with an actuarial five-year disease-free survival of all patients treated of 40%. The overall survival at five years was 46%. Conclusions: High-dose chemo-radiotherapy, followed by infusion of autologous hematopoietic stem cells, can effectively function as salvage therapy in a significant number of patients in whom primary chemotherapy regimens for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma fail. This treatment approach appears to offer superior results when compared with the reported outcome for patients treated with salvage chemotherapy administered at conventional doses.
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