Conference Coverage

When to choose stem cell transplant in PTCL



Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) can be hit or miss in patients with peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCLs), according to one expert.

Dr. Ali Bazarbachi of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon Jennifer Smith/MDedge News

Dr. Ali Bazarbachi

The success of HSCT varies according to the subtype of PTCL and the type of transplant, Ali Bazarbachi, MD, PhD, of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, said at Leukemia and Lymphoma, a meeting jointly sponsored by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the School of Medicine at the University of Zagreb, Croatia.

For example, autologous (auto) HSCT given as frontline consolidation can be considered the standard of care for PTCL–not otherwise specified (NOS), angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL), and certain patients with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL), according to Dr. Bazarbachi.

On the other hand, auto-HSCT should never be used in patients with adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL).

Both auto-HSCT and allogeneic (allo) HSCT are options for patients with nonlocalized, extranodal natural killer T-cell lymphoma (ENKTL), nasal type, but only at certain times.

State of PTCL treatment

Patients with newly diagnosed PTCL are no longer treated like patients with B-cell lymphoma, but treatment outcomes in PTCL still leave a lot to be desired, Dr. Bazarbachi said.

He noted that, with any of the chemotherapy regimens used, typically, about a third of patients are primary refractory, a third relapse, and a quarter are cured. Only two forms of PTCL are frequently curable – localized ENKTL and anaplastic lymphoma kinase–positive (ALK-positive) ALCL.

Current treatment strategies for PTCL do include HSCT, but recommendations vary. Dr. Bazarbachi made the following recommendations, supported by evidence from clinical trials.


For patients with PTCL-NOS, AITL, or ALK-negative, non-DUSP22 ALCL, auto-HSCT as frontline consolidation can be considered the standard of care in patients who responded to induction, Dr. Bazarbachi said.

In a study published in 2012, high-dose chemotherapy and auto-HSCT as consolidation improved 5-year overall survival – compared with previous results with CHOP – in patients with ALK-negative ALCL, AITL, PTCL-NOS, and enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma (J Clin Oncol. 2012 Sep 1;30[25]:3093-9; ISRN Hematol. 2011 Jun 16. doi: 10.5402/2011/623924).

Allo-HSCT may also be an option for frontline consolidation in patients with PTCL-NOS, AITL, or ALK-negative, non-DUSP22 ALCL, according to Dr. Bazarbachi.

“Allo-transplant is not dead in this indication,” he said. “But it should be either part of a clinical trial or [given] to some selected patients – those with persistent bone marrow involvement, very young patients, or patients with primary refractory disease.”

Results from the COMPLETE study showed improved survival in patients who received consolidation with auto- or allo-HSCT, compared with patients who did not receive a transplant (Blood. 2017;130:342).

COMPLETE patients with AITL or PTCL-NOS had improvements in progression-free and overall survival with HSCT. The survival advantage was “less evident” in patients with ALCL, the researchers said, but this trial included both ALK-negative and ALK-positive patients.

Allo- and auto-HSCT can be options after relapse in patients with PTCL-NOS, AITL, or ALK-negative, non-DUSP22 ALCL, Dr. Bazarbachi said.

However, chemosensitive patients who have relapsed should receive auto-HSCT only if they did not receive it frontline. Patients who have already undergone auto-HSCT can receive allo-HSCT, Dr. Bazarbachi said.

He added that refractory patients should not undergo auto-HSCT and should receive allo-HSCT only within the context of a clinical trial.

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