When to seek a stem cell transplant for lymphoma?

One of the most critical issues for lymphoma patients deals with how and when to consider a stem cell transplant. This is most true when traditional and new-tech chemotherapy fails to provide lasting remission or a cure. The internet offers some insightful observations from a variety of resources, including this one ...

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Ann LaCasce, M.D.

Question:
My spouse is currently in the fourth round of R-CHOP for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and is showing 50 percent reduction in affected nodes. Is stem cell transplant considered plan B when only a partial response to chemo is achieved, or is R-CHOP plus a transplant preferred by some oncologists in an attempt to achieve lasting remission (cure)?

Answer:
There have been a number of studies looking at the impact of stem cell transplant in patients who achieved remission following initial chemotherapy. The results have been controversial, and in the era of rituximab (Rituxan), which has improved the outcome for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma when used in combination with CHOP, very few patients outside of a clinical trial will be offered initial stem cell transplant. If the disease does not go into remission, however, it would be standard treatment for the next step to be transplant, typically as long as the disease is responding to second-line chemotherapy.

(Medical editor’s note: CHOP+R, or R-CHOP, stands for cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin/hydroxydoxorubicin, vincristine/Oncovin and prednisone, plus rituximab/Rituxan.)

Related Links:
How Is Lymphoma Treated?
Life with Lymphoma: The ABCs of CHOP
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Important: We hope you find this medical and health information helpful, but it is no substitute for professional medical advice. For all personal medical concerns, including decisions about medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor.

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