The significance of molecular response of follicular lymphoma to central lymphatic irradiation as measured by polymerase chain reaction for t(14;18)(q32;q21)

Chul S. Ha, Susan L. Tucker, Ming Sheng Lee, Peter McLaughlin, Fernando Cabanillas, James D. Cox

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11 Scopus citations


Backgound: More than 80% of the patients with follicular lymphoma have a characteristic chromosomal translocation, t(14;18)(q32;q21), at the major breakpoint region (MBR) or minor cluster region (MCR) involving the bcl-2 oncogene. This study was undertaken to assess the significance of the molecular response rate measured by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) evidence of translocation among patients with Stage I to III follicular lymphoma treated with central lymphatic irradiation (CLI). Methods and Materials: Thirty-three patients with Stage I-III follicular lymphoma were treated with CLI on a prospective protocol. Bone marrow and peripheral blood samples were obtained before CLI for PCR analysis of t(14;18)(q32; q21). PCR-positive patients were followed by PCR analysis at regular intervals during and after CLI, and the results were correlated with clinical outcome. The following pretreatment factors were also investigated for their relationship to relapse and molecular response: gender, age, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and β-2 microglobulin (β2 M) levels, Ann Arbor stage, and International Prognostic Index (IPI) for malignant lymphoma. Results: The subjects were 19 men and 14 women, with a median age of 52 years (range 30-69), who started CLI between January 1993 and February 1998. Median follow-up was 44 months (range 12-67), and all but 2 patients were still alive at the last follow-up. Four patients were Stage IA, 8 were Stage IIA, 19 were Stage IIIA, and 2 were Stage IIIB. Two patients had abnormal LDH levels (> 618 U/dL) and 7 patients had abnormal β2M levels (> 2 mg/dL). Nine patients had IPI = 0, 16 had IPI = 1, and 8 had IPI = 2. All patients achieved complete response (CR). Twelve patients have relapsed to date. The median overall time to relapse was 54 months. The actuarial proportion of patients free from relapse at 3 years was 87% (95% confidence interval [CI] 69-95%). A total of 287 PCR results were available, 64 from bone marrow and 223 from peripheral blood. Pretreatment PCR data were available for 27 patients, of whom 21 were positive and 3 were unambiguously negative (in blood and bone marrow for both MBR and MCR). For the 19 PCR positive patients for whom we had post-treatment results, there was a clear and steady decreasing trend toward loss of PCR positivity (49% positive for bone marrow and 32% positive for peripheral blood at 3 years). There was a clear trend for increasing PCR positivity with increasing IPI: 10% for IPI = 0, 31% for IPI = 1, and 63% for IPI = 2 at 3 years for blood. The same trend was also observed for bone marrow. The IPI was the only statistically significant predictor for relapse with a relapse-free survival of 91% at 3 years for IPI < 2 and 75% for IPI = 2 (p = 0.024, log-rank test). Conclusion: Molecular response to CLI occurs gradually over years. High IPI is a negative predictor for molecular response and relapse-free survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-732
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2001


  • Central lymphatic irradiation
  • Follicular lymphoma
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • bcl-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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