CNS lymphoma guidelines stress patient fitness, not age, in choosing treatment



People with primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) should be offered entry into clinical trials whenever possible, say the authors of the British Society for Haematology’s guidelines for the diagnosis and management of primary central nervous system diffuse large B‐cell lymphoma.

PCNSL, implicated in some 3% of all brain tumors, is complex to diagnose and treat. People with suspected PCNSL must receive quick and coordinated attention from a multidisciplinary team of neurologists, hematologist-oncologists, and ocular specialists, according to the guidelines, published in the British Journal of Haematology.

Christopher P. Fox, MD, of the Nottingham (England) University Hospitals NHS Trust, and his colleagues, stress the importance of early multidisciplinary attention, aggressive induction treatment, helping patients into trials, universal screening for eye involvement, attaining histological diagnoses in addition to imaging findings, and avoidance or discontinuation of any corticosteroids before biopsy, as even a short course of steroids can impede diagnosis.

The guidelines incorporate findings from studies published since the society’s last comprehensive PCNSL guideline was issued more than a decade ago.

Dr. Fox and his colleagues say definitive treatment for PCNSL – induction of remission followed by consolidation – should start within 2 weeks of diagnosis and that a treatment regimen should be chosen according to a patient’s physiological fitness, not age. The fittest patients, who have better organ function and fewer comorbidities, should be eligible for intensive combination immunochemotherapy incorporating high-dose methotrexate (optimally four cycles of HD-MTX, cytarabine, thiotepa, and rituximab). Those deemed unfit for this regimen should be offered induction treatment with HD-MTX, rituximab and procarbazine, the guidelines’ authors say.

If patients cannot tolerate HD-MTX, oral chemotherapy and/or whole-brain radiotherapy may be offered. Response should be assessed with contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging.

Consolidation therapy should be initiated after induction for all patients with nonprogressive disease, and high-dose thiotepa-based chemotherapy with autologous stem cell transplant is the recommended first-line option for consolidation. Response to consolidation, again measured with contrast-enhanced MRI, should be carried out at between 1 and 2 months after therapy is completed, and patients should be referred for neuropsychological testing to assess cognitive function.

Patients with relapsed or refractory disease should be approached with maximum urgency – the guidelines offer an algorithm for retreatment options – and offered clinical trial entry wherever possible.

The PCNSL guideline writing process was sponsored by the British Society for Haematology, and some coauthors, including the lead author, disclosed receiving fees from pharmaceutical manufacturers Adienne or F. Hoffman-La Roche.

SOURCE: Fox et al. Br J Haematol. 2018 Nov 23 doi: 10.1111/bjh.15661.

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