A brief‐duration combination chemotherapy for elderly patients with poor‐prognosis non‐Hodgkin's lymphoma

M. L. McMaster, D. H. Johnson, J. P. Greer, S. N. Wolff, C. R. Hildreth, F. A. Greco, J. D. Hainsworth

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48 Scopus citations


Curative combination chemotherapy is available for many patients with aggressive non‐Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL); however, treatment of elderly patients with these regimens is difficult due to excessive toxicity. From 1983 to 1988 the authors treated 26 patients 65 years and older with aggressive NHL with a novel 8‐week chemotherapy regimen containing bleomycin, etoposide, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, methotrexate with leucovorin, and prednisone (BECALM), designed to preserve dose intensity and minimize toxicity. Median age was 75 years. Histologic types included the following: 20 intermediate grade (16 large noncleaved cell; two large cleaved cell; one intermediate grade, unspecified); six high grade (four small noncleaved cell; one immunoblastic sarcoma B‐cell; one high grade, unspecified). Twenty‐one patients were Stage III or IV. Twenty‐two of 26 patients had one or more of the following: tumor greater than 10 cm; multiple extranodal sites; lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) 400 IU/1 or greater; small noncleaved cell histologic type. Chemotherapy consisted of bleomycin 20 U intravenously (IV) weeks 1 and 7; etoposide 75 mg/m2 IV every day × 3 days on week 4; cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m2 IV weeks 1, 4, 7; doxorubicin 40 mg/m2 IV weeks 1, 7; methotrexate 50 mg/m2 IV weeks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 with oral leucovorin rescue; prednisone 60 mg orally for 10 days on weeks 1, 4, 7. Eighteen patients completed the 8‐week treatment course. There were 13 complete responses (CR); seven patients remain in continuous CR at a median follow‐up of 37.5 months. There have been five relapses, including one late relapse; and one patient died of an intercurrent illness in CR. Overall and actual event‐free survivals are 38% and 27%, respectively. The major toxicities were neutropenic fever and mucositis. There were four treatment‐related deaths. The authors conclude that BECALM chemotherapy can be administered to elderly patients with aggressive NHL. Although neurotoxicity and cumulative toxicity from bleomycin and anthracycline are avoided, the regimen remains moderately toxic, particularly with respect to myelosuppression. Treatment results compare favorably with other reported regimens in this group of patients with multiple poor prognostic features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1487-1492
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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