Risk of histological transformation and therapy-related myelodysplasia/acute myeloid leukaemia in patients receiving radioimmunotherapy for follicular lymphoma

Narendranath Epperla, Anthony Q. Pham, Brian L. Burnette, Gregory A. Wiseman, Thomas Matthew Habermann, William R. Macon, Stephen Maxted Ansell, David J. Inwards, Ivana Micallef, Patrick Bruce Johnston, Svetomir Nenad Markovic, Luis F. Porrata, Joseph P. Colgan, Kay M. Ristow, Grzegorz S Nowakowski, Thomas Elmer Witzig

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Histological transformation (HT) of follicular lymphoma (FL) to an aggressive lymphoma after chemotherapy remains a key issue. The incidence of HT after radioimmunotherapy (RIT) is unknown. This single institution study analysed the risk of HT in FL after treatment with yttrium-90 ibritumomab tiuxetan in 115 consecutive patients treated during 1987-2012. RIT was administered for progressive FL in 111 (97%) patients and as first-line therapy in the remaining 4. 28% (n = 32) had HT, occurring at a median of 60 months from diagnosis and 20 months after RIT. 48% (12/25) of patients who received fludarabine developed HT. The estimated 10-year risk of HT in the fludarabine and non-fludarabine groups was 67% and 26% respectively (P = 0·015). Only prior fludarabine was significantly associated with predicting the risk of HT after RIT. 8% (9/115) of patients developed therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome/acute myeloid leukaemia (tMDS/AML) at a median of 41·4 months (range, 5-89). The estimated 10-year risk of tMDS/AML in non-fludarabine treated patients (n = 90) versus fludarabine treated (n = 25) was 13% and 29%, respectively. The estimated overall risk of FL undergoing HT at 10 years without fludarabine exposure appears similar to patients reported in the literature that have not received RIT. Patients with prior purine-analogue therapy are at significantly higher risk of HT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
StateAccepted/In press - 2017



  • Acute myeloid leukaemia
  • Follicular lymphoma
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Radioimmunotherapy
  • Transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology

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