Failure-free survival, defined as the absence of relapse, non-relapse mortality or addition of another systemic therapy, has been proposed as a potential endpoint for clinical trials, but its use has only been reported for single-center studies. We measured failure-free survival in a prospective observational cohort of patients (n=575) with both newly diagnosed and existing chronic graft-versus-host disease from nine centers. Failure was observed in 389 (68%) patients during the observation period. The median follow up of all patients was 30.9 months, and the median failure-free survival was 9.8 months (63% at 6 months, 45% at 1 year, and 29% at 2 years). Of the variables measured at enrollment, ten were associated with shorter failure-free survival: higher National Institutes of Health 0-3 skin score, higher National Institutes of Health 0-3 gastrointestinal score, worse range of motion summary score, lower forced vital capacity (%), bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, worse quality of life, moderate to severe hepatic dysfunction, absence of treatment for gastric acid, female donor for male recipient, and prior grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease. Addition of a new systemic treatment, the major cause of failure, was associated with an increased risk of subsequent non-relapse mortality (hazard ratio=2.06, 95% confidence interval: 1.29- 3.32; P<0.003) and decreased survival (hazard ratio=1.51, 95% confidence interval: 1.04-2.18; P<0.03). These results show that fewer than half of patients on systemic treatment will be failure-free survivors at 1 year, and fewer than a third will reach 2 years without experiencing failure. Better treatments are needed for chronic graftversus- host disease. Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00637689.
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