How are indolent stage I and indolent contiguous stage II non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) treated?

Updated: Feb 25, 2021
  • Author: Sanjay Vinjamaram, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Standard management consists of radiotherapy alone. Forty percent of patients with limited-stage disease remained disease-free at 10 years after radiation in a study done by Mac Manus and Hoppe. [22] No randomized study has shown combined chemotherapy and radiation to be better than radiation alone.

A study by Rossier et al found that low-dose involved-field radiotherapy is effective in treating patients with recurrent low-grade lymphoma. [23]

Radiation therapy (2500-4000 cGy) produces a 10-year failure-free survival (FFS) rate of 50-60%, with an overall survival (OS) rate of 60-80%. Offering adjuvant chemotherapy to selected patients with stage I-II NHL who have unfavorable prognostic factors (eg, B symptoms, >2 nodal sites), and to those with follicular mixed histology is not unreasonable. Early treatment in asymptomatic patients has not been shown to improve survival.

Rituximab is another treatment option for symptomatic patients for whom radiation therapy is contraindicated or who prefer an alternative treatment. [3] The use of rituximab—a monoclonal antibody that targets the CD20 antigen, which is present in benign and malignant B-cells—in combination with systemic chemotherapy, has resulted in an improved duration of remission and survival for patients with indolent B-cell lymphomas, compared with chemotherapy alone. Prospective studies and two meta-analyses suggest that rituximab-chemotherapy, also known as chemo-immunotherapy, may change the natural progression of indolent lymphomas.


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