Our purpose was to study the risk factors associated with disease progression after high-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation in patients with recurrent or refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL). We analyzed the long-term outcome of 184 patients with recurrent or refractory HL who underwent autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. At the time of transplantation, 82 patients were in first relapse or second remission, 46 patients were refractory to the primary induction chemotherapy, and 56 patients were beyond first relapse or second remission. In 64 patients, the disease had proved refractory to the chemotherapy regimen administered immediately prior to transplantation. The median follow-up of patients who were alive and free of disease at the time of this report was 8.9 years (range, 0.1-19.0 years). At 10 years, the overall and disease-free survival rates were 34% (95% CI 27-42) and 29% (95% CI 22-36) respectively. The major cause of treatment failure was disease relapse. Chemotherapy resistance prior to transplantation, advanced stage, and higher number of chemotherapy regimens administered prior to transplantation were adverse prognostic factors for disease progression. We conclude that autologous transplantation is an effective salvage treatment for recurrent HL.
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