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No survival benefit for routine surveillance scans in classical Hodgkin disease



Major finding: The ratio of scans to detected relapses was 18 for the clinical surveillance group and 124 for the routine scan group. The extra charges incurred from scans using the routine surveillance imaging approach were $18,896/patient and $593,698/relapse.

Data source: A retrospective analysis of 241 patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma in first complete remission

Disclosures: Dr. Pingali disclosed no relevant conflicts of interest. Dr. Gordon disclosed that he receives honoraria from Genentech and research funding from Millennium and Pharmacyclics. Dr. Salles disclosed serving as an advisor or consultant for Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, Celgene; Genentech, Janssen Pharmaceutica, and Roche. He has served as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau and has received grants for clinical research from Celgene and Roche.

CHICAGO – Routine surveillance imaging does not improve clinical outcomes in patients with classic Hodgkin disease who are in first complete remission and it sharply increases costs, researchers reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The team, led by Dr. Sai Ravi Pingali, retrospectively reviewed the charts of 241 adult patients who achieved a complete remission after first-line therapy.

In 68%, the treating physicians’ planned approach was routine surveillance imaging, which consisted of radiologic imaging with scans every few months, plus clinical exams and laboratory testing. In the other 32%, the planned approach was clinical surveillance, meaning that radiologic imaging was performed only if concerning signs or symptoms occurred.

The two groups had statistically indistinguishable overall survival, and in both groups, all patients experiencing relapse successfully achieved a second complete remission with salvage therapy.

In the routinely imaged group, scanning increased costs by nearly $20,000 per patient and by almost $600,000 per each relapse detected. In addition, patients were exposed to the associated radiation.

"We were unable to detect an overall survival benefit associated with routine surveillance imaging, although I have to acknowledge that our study was limited in power given the small number of deaths and relapses," commented Dr. Pingali, an oncologist with the Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals in Milwaukee.

"Relapses in both ... groups were effectively salvaged with autologous stem cell transplantation, arguing against a critical advantage of detection of asymptomatic relapse. Also, we need to keep in mind that the costs associated with routine surveillance imaging are significant, and it is also associated with potential risks, both in terms of radiation exposure and unnecessary work-up," he added.

"We do not feel that potential risks and costs without overall survival benefit or any other clinical benefit justify the practice of routine surveillance imaging in classical Hodgkin lymphoma patients who have achieved a complete remission after first-line therapy. We recommend that such patients be followed clinically," Dr. Pingali concluded.

Invited discussant Dr. Leo Gordon of Northwestern University in Chicago, agreed that accumulating data argue against routine imaging for surveillance in this context and noted that insurers will likely not continue to cover scans having no proven benefit. The data should prompt a revision of guidelines and reeducation of clinicians and patients, he said.

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