Don't Put the CART Before the Horse: The Role of Radiation Therapy in Peri-CAR T-cell Therapy for Aggressive B-cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Omran Saifi, William G. Breen, Scott C. Lester, William G. Rule, Bradley J. Stish, Allison Rosenthal, Javier Munoz, Yi Lin, Radhika Bansal, Matthew A. Hathcock, N. Nora Bennani, Jonas Paludo, Arushi Khurana, Jose C. Villasboas, Patrick B. Johnston, Stephen M. Ansell, Madiha Iqbal, Muhamad Alhaj Moustafa, Hemant S. Murthy, Mohamed A. Kharfan-DabajaBradford S. Hoppe, Jennifer L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The optimal approach to incorporate radiation therapy (RT) in conjunction with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy (CART) for relapsed/refractory (r/r) B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (bNHL) remains unclear. This study documented the RT local control rate among patients who received bridging radiation therapy (BRT) before CART and compares it with those who received salvage radiation therapy (SRT) after CART. This article further reports on a promising way to use SRT for post-CART disease and identifies predictors for RT in-field recurrence. Methods and Materials: We retrospectively reviewed 83 patients with r/r bNHL who received CART and RT, either as BRT pre-CART infusion (n = 35) or as SRT post-CART infusion (n = 48), between 2018 and 2021. RT was defined as comprehensive (compRT; ie, treated all sites of active disease) or focal (focRT). Limited disease was defined as disease amenable to compRT, involving <5 active disease sites. Results: At time of RT, patients who received BRT before CART had bulkier disease sites (median diameter, 8.7 vs 5.5 cm; P = .01) and were treated to significantly lower doses (median equivalent 2-Gy dose, 23.3 vs 34.5 Gy; P = .002), compared with SRT post-CART. Among 124 total irradiated sites identified, 8 of 59 (13%) bridged sites and 21 of 65 (32%) salvaged sites experienced in-field recurrence, translating to 1-year local control rates (LC) of 84% and 62%, respectively (P = .009). Patients with limited post-CART disease (n = 37) who received compSRT (n = 26) had better overall survival (51% vs 12%; P = .028), freedom from subsequent progression (31% vs 0%; P < .001), and freedom from subsequent event (19% vs 0%; P = .011) compared with patients with limited disease who received focSRT (n = 11). Conclusions: BRT followed by CART appears to be associated with improved LC compared with SRT in r/r bNHL. Nonetheless, SRT offers a promising salvage intervention for limited (<5 sites) relapsed post-CART disease if given comprehensively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1007
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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