Rituximab Is Associated With Improved Survival in Burkitt Lymphoma: A Retrospective Analysis From Two Us Academic Medical Centers

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Background: Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a rare, highly aggressive B-cell malignancy treated most successfully with brief-duration, high-intensity chemotherapeutic regimens. The benefit of the addition of rituximab to these regimens remains uncertain. We sought to examine the effectiveness of chemotherapy with and without rituximab in patients with BL. Methods: This study is a retrospective cohort study of all adult patients with BL diagnosed and treated with modern, dose-intense chemotherapeutic regimens from 1998–2008 at two tertiary care institutions. All cases were confirmed by application of WHO 2008 criteria by hematopathologists. Medical records were reviewed for patient-, disease-, and treatment- related factors as well as treatment response and survival. Factors associated with survival were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards modeling. Results: A total of 35 patients were analyzed: 18 patients received rituximab with chemotherapy (R-chemo) and 17 received chemotherapy (chemo) alone. The median age was 42 (range 20–74 years); 57% were male; 71% had Ann Arbor Stage IV disease; 33% had central nervous system involvement; 78% had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0–1. R-chemo was associated with significantly longer overall survival (OS) than chemo alone (5-year OS 70% and 29%, respectively, p = 0.040). On multivariate regression analysis, poor performance status and central nervous system involvement were associated with poorer survival. The addition of rituximab to chemotherapy was associated with improved OS in patients with Burkitt lymphoma. Poor performance status and central nervous system involvement were prognostically significant on multivariate analysis.