Metronomic Chemotherapy Is Effective and Well Tolerated in Relapsed/Refractory Elderly Patients with Aggressive B- and T-Cell Lymphomas

Maria Christina Cox, Elena Cavalieri, maria Paola Bianchi, Raffaele Porrini, Virginia Naso, Marco di Girolamo, Daniela Prosperi, Francesca di Landro and Agostino Tafuri


BACKGROUND: Elderly patients with Relapsed/Refractory (R/R) aggressive Large B-cell lymphoma (LBCL) and Peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCL), are commonly treated with intravenous conventional chemotherapies, which are often poorly tolerated and of short-lasting efficacy. Therefore only few fit-elderly patients might undergo intensive treatments with curative intent. Metronomic chemoterapy (MTN-CHT) is a new way of administering old drugs at low doses with only short chemotherapy free intervals. MTN-CHT may be combined with new targeted molecules, immunotherapies and radiotherapy. Although very few reports on MTN-CHT in LBCL and PTCL have been published existing data suggest that these lymphomas might respond to this approach.

AIM: We aimed at demonstrating the efficacy and safety of MTN-CHT in a retrospective series of elderly patients with LBCL and PTCL, unfit for conventional treatments.


From October 2008 up to May 2015 we treated elderly patients with R/R LBCL, Follicular Lymphoma(FL) and PTCL with MTN-CHT based regimen. Eligible patients should have given written informed consent, have a Performance Status=0-3, a life expection >2 months, be able to take oral therapy and have a care-giver.

We used three different MTN schedules: 1] Provecip; 2] Vinblastine+Endoxan+Etoposide+Prednisone (VEED) and in the last two years an all-oral schedule 3] Navelbine+Endoxan+Etoposide+Prednisone (DE-VEC). All three schedules of MTN-CHT consisted of an induction phase of six months followed by a maintenance phase administered until progression or excessive toxicity. Rituximab was added to the induction phase for those patients characterized by CD20 expression. Thrombosis prophylaxis was carried out with aspirin or LMWH.


Patients features: LBCL=21; PTCL=7, FL=3; Age=77y (median, range 62-90), Previous CHT=2 (median, range 0-5) refractory to last CHT= 43%. MTN-CHT: 8 pts were treated with schedule 1], 8 pts with schedule 2] and 15 pts with schedule 3]. Outcome: in aggressive B and T-cell lymphomas (n=28pts) with all schedules Overall Response Rate = 62%, Complete Remission rate = 36%; Progression Free Survival = 8 months, Median Duration of Response (DOR)= 10 months. Overall Response Rate and Complete Remission in the subset treated with the all-oral DE-VEC schedule were 66% and 50% respectively. Serious adverse events: Extra hematologic toxicity grade 3-4: pulmonary embolism in 1pts; hematological toxicity of grade 3-4 and/or neutropenic infections in 6 patients 5 of whom had >2 previous conventional chemotherapies. The use of DE-VEC all-oral schedule reduced the number and the durations of day-hospital admissions.


Although our series is limited, these results suggest that MTN-CHT in elderly patients with R/R LBCL, PTCL and FL might achieve favorable results in terms of activity, toxicity and costs due to hospital admissions. With MTN-CHT most of the patients did not need G-CSF. Notably, patients who had had >2 lines of chemotherapies may be at very high risk of prolonged cytopenia and infections during MTN-CHT. Since the all-oral DE-VEC schedule was particularly manageable and active we believe that this combination deserve further investigation in aggressive lymphomas.

Disclosures No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

  • * Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.