This study aims to investigate the relationship between the intensity of the initial treatment given to patients with de novo diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and the impact of their baseline cell-free DNA (cfDNA) levels on their long-term survival.

Experimental Design:

The GOELAMS 075 randomized clinical trial compared rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone (R-CHOP) with high-dose R-chemotherapy plus autologous stem cell transplantation (R-HDT) for patients aged ≤60. An interim PET assessment was used to refer patients for salvage therapy. With a median follow-up of more than 5.8 years, we analyzed the effects of the treatment arm, salvage therapy, and cfDNA level at diagnosis on overall survival (OS).


In a representative group of 123 patients, a high cfDNA concentration (>55 ng/mL) at diagnosis was associated with poor clinical prognostic factors and constituted a prognostic marker, independently of the age-adjusted International Prognostic Index. A cfDNA level above a threshold value of 55 ng/mL at diagnosis was associated with significantly worse OS. In an intention-to-treat analysis, high-cfDNA R-CHOP patients (but not high-cfDNA R-HDT patients) had worse OS [HR (95% confidence interval), 3.99 (1.98–10.74); P = 0.006]. In patients with high cfDNA levels, salvage therapy and transplantation were associated with a significantly higher OS rate. Among 50 patients with complete response 6 months after the end of treatment, for 11 of 24 R-CHOP patients, the cfDNA did not fall back to normal values.


In this randomized clinical trial, intensive regimens mitigated the negative influence of high cfDNA levels in de novo DLBCL, relative to R-CHOP.

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