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Relapsed or refractory (R/R) diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) in those unfit or ineligible for autologous stem cell transplantation is associated with a poor outcome and new treatment approaches are needed. Pixantrone is a novel aza-anthracenedione which is structurally similar to anthracyclines and is licenced in R/R DLBCL and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)-approved following the PIX301 trial. No data exist post-NICE approval. We performed a UK-wide retrospective multi-centre study of 92 R/R DLBCL who received pixantrone. Eighty-five per cent had refractory disease and 72% had an international prognostic index (IPI) 3-5 at commencement of pixantrone. The median progression-free survival (PFS) was 2·0 months (95% confidence interval (CI) 1·5-2·4) and the median overall survival was 3·4 months (95% CI 2·7-4·5). The overall response rate was 24% (complete response 10%; partial response 14%). We demonstrate that pixantrone has limited activity in a cohort of high risk, predominantly refractory DLBCL. Multivariate Cox regression revealed that patients who relapsed >12 months after first line treatment, those with fewer prior lines of therapy and relapsed (non-refractory) DLBCL had improved PFS. The major population of unmet need are those with refractory DLBCL who are poorly represented within trials and in whom pixantrone appears less efficacious compared to relapsed DLBCL.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of haematology

Publication Date





896 - 904


Department of Haematology, Churchill Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK.


Humans, Recurrence, Isoquinolines, Disease-Free Survival, Treatment Outcome, Salvage Therapy, Remission Induction, Retrospective Studies, Cohort Studies, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Female, Male, Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse, Young Adult, Topoisomerase II Inhibitors