A substantial proportion of patients with follicular lymphoma managed with watchful waiting develop organ dysfunction or transformation that may negatively impact survival outcomes, results of a retrospective study suggest.
About one-quarter of patients managed with watchful waiting developed significant organ dysfunction or transformation at first progression over 8.2 years of follow-up.
Organ dysfunction and transformation were associated with significantly worse overall survival that could not be predicted based on baseline characteristics, the study authors reported in Clinical Lymphoma, Myeloma & Leukemia.
The study confirmed certain benefits of watchful waiting, including a low risk of progression and an “excellent” rate of overall survival, the investigators said.
However, the substantial rate of organ dysfunction and transformation in a subset of patients is “clinically meaningful for informed decision making,” reported Gwynivere A. Davies, MD, of the University of Calgary (Alta.), and her coauthors.
“While consenting patients to initial [watchful waiting], patients need to be informed about the risk for these adverse events, as well as receiving education and the need for close monitoring regarding symptoms that may indicate serious progression events,” Dr. Davies and her coauthors wrote.
Alternatively, rituximab chemotherapy, with or without rituximab maintenance, might be warranted for watchful waiting patients with clear disease progression before organ dysfunction or transformation events, despite not meeting high-tumor burden therapy indications.