To evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of upfront high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and rituximab (R) followed by autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (auto-PBSCT) in patients with newly diagnosed high-intermediate(HI)-, and high(H)-risk diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), we conducted a multicenter prospective phase II trial. In 15–60-year-old patients with H- or HI-risk DLBCL, after three courses of (R-)CHOP14, high-dose etoposide was given prior to peripheral blood stem cell harvesting. After an additional three courses of (R-)CHOP14, auto-PBSCT was performed following HDCT. The primary endpoint of the study is progression-free survival (PFS) at 2 years after registration in eligible patients. The expected PFS and the threshold PFS were estimated to be 70 and 50 %, respectively. Among 40 eligible patients registered, 30 patients completed treatment. With a median observation period in surviving eligible patients of 63 months, the 2- and 4-year PFS after registration were 79.9 and 72.0 %, respectively. The 2- and 4-year overall survival (OS) were 92.5 and 84.6 %, respectively. In 30 patients who completed treatment, the 4-year PFS and OS after auto-PBSCT were 79.2 and 85.9 %, respectively. In conclusion, the results of our study suggest that upfront HDCT and auto-PBSCT combined with rituximab is highly effective as an initial treatment for HI-, and H-risk DLBCL.
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