The Role of Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation in Aggressive B-Cell Lymphomas: Real-World Data from a Retrospective Single-Center Analysis


Patients with high-risk or relapsed aggressive B-cell lymphomas are characterized by poor prognosis. High-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) can induce durable remissions in these patients and is potentially curative. Two hundred forty-seven patients with aggressive B-cell lymphomas treated with high-dose chemotherapy and ASCT, either as consolidation after first-line therapy or after salvage therapy for relapsed disease, between 2002 and 2019 at the University Hospital Muenster, were analyzed. The median follow-up of surviving patients was 36 months (range 0-163). Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) after 3 years was 63% and 68%, respectively. After ASCT, 28% of all patients experienced a relapse. The cumulative incidence of non-relapse mortality at day 100 after ASCT was 4%. Multivariate analysis identified remission status at ASCT, age at ASCT, and the numbers of infused CD34+ cells as independent prognostic factors for both PFS and OS. Patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) or primary CNS lymphoma (PCNSL) treated with ASCT in first-line had a superior OS and PFS when compared to patients treated with ASCT in relapsed disease. For patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), early relapse (< 12 months) after first-line therapy showed a trend towards an inferior PFS and OS. Deaths after ASCT were predominantly caused by lymphoma relapse and/or progression (64%) or due to infections (23%). In conclusion, high-dose chemotherapy followed by ASCT in the era of novel targeted agents remains a feasible and effective approach for patients with high-risk or relapsed aggressive B-cell lymphomas. Remission status and age at ASCT, and the number of infused stem cells were of prognostic relevance.