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Uptake and use of recommendations for the diagnosis, severity scoring and management of chronic graft-versus-host disease: An international survey of the EBMT-NCI Chronic GVHD Task Force

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      In 2005, the NIH consensus conference published a series of papers recommending methods to improve the conduct of clinical trials in chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Although the NIH recommendations were primarily aimed at strengthening research, several papers addressed issues relevant for clinical practice, particularly diagnosis, severity scoring, and ancillary and supportive care practices. We conducted an international survey to assess the uptake of these recommendations, identify barriers to greater use, and document the use and perceived effectiveness of available treatments. The response rate for the American survey of 1,387 practitioners was 21.8%, and it was 24.6% for 407 centers surveyed in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Most respondents were familiar with the NIH consensus recommendations (94-96%) and used them in practice. Multiple barriers to greater use were reported. Besides lack of time (55-62%), unfamiliarity with the recommendations, scarcity of evidence supporting the impact of recommendations on outcomes, insufficient training/experience in chronic GVHD management, and inaccessibility of subspecialists were also endorsed. Systemic corticosteroids were reported to be the most effective treatment for chronic GVHD, but many others were perceived to have moderate or great success. Therapeutic management of steroid-refractory chronic GVHD was identified as the highest priority for research.

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      Most cited references 21

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      National Institutes of Health consensus development project on criteria for clinical trials in chronic graft-versus-host disease: I. Diagnosis and staging working group report.

      This consensus document is intended to serve 3 functions. First, it standardizes the criteria for diagnosis of chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Second, it proposes a new clinical scoring system (0-3) that describes the extent and severity of chronic GVHD for each organ or site at any given time, taking functional impact into account. Third, it proposes new guidelines for global assessment of chronic GVHD severity that are based on the number of organs or sites involved and the degree of involvement in affected organs (mild, moderate, or severe). Diagnosis of chronic GVHD requires the presence of at least 1 diagnostic clinical sign of chronic GVHD (e.g., poikiloderma or esophageal web) or the presence of at least 1 distinctive manifestation (e.g., keratoconjunctivitis sicca) confirmed by pertinent biopsy or other relevant tests (e.g., Schirmer test) in the same or another organ. Furthermore, other possible diagnoses for clinical symptoms must be excluded. No time limit is set for the diagnosis of chronic GVHD. The Working Group recognized 2 main categories of GVHD, each with 2 subcategories. The acute GVHD category is defined in the absence of diagnostic or distinctive features of chronic GVHD and includes (1) classic acute GVHD occurring within 100 days after transplantation and (2) persistent, recurrent, or late acute GVHD (features of acute GVHD occurring beyond 100 days, often during withdrawal of immune suppression). The broad category of chronic GVHD includes (1) classic chronic GVHD (without features or characteristics of acute GVHD) and (2) an overlap syndrome in which diagnostic or distinctive features of chronic GVHD and acute GVHD appear together. It is currently recommended that systemic therapy be considered for patients who meet criteria for chronic GVHD of moderate to severe global severity.
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        Measuring therapeutic response in chronic graft-versus-host disease: National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Project on Criteria for Clinical Trials in Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease: IV. Response Criteria Working Group report.

        The lack of standardized criteria for quantitative measurement of therapeutic response in clinical trials poses a major obstacle for the development of new agents in chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). This consensus document was developed to address several objectives for response criteria to be used in chronic GVHD-related clinical trials. The proposed measures should be practical for use both by transplantation and nontransplantation medical providers, adaptable for use in adults and in children, and focused on the most important chronic GVHD manifestations. The measures should also give preference to quantitative, rather than semiquantitative, measures; capture information regarding signs, symptoms, and function separately from each other; and use validated scales whenever possible to demonstrate improved patient outcomes and meet requirements for regulatory approval of novel agents. Based on these criteria, we propose a set of measures to be considered for use in clinical trials, and forms for data collection are provided (). Measures should be made at 3-month intervals and whenever major changes are made in treatment. Provisional definitions of complete response, partial response, and progression are proposed for each organ and for overall outcomes. The proposed response criteria are based on current expert consensus opinion and are intended to improve consistency in the conduct and reporting of chronic GVHD trials, but their use remains to be demonstrated in practice.
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          Histopathologic diagnosis of chronic graft-versus-host disease: National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Project on Criteria for Clinical Trials in Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease: II. Pathology Working Group Report.

          This consensus document provides an update for pathologists and clinicians about the interpretation of biopsy results and use of this information in the management of hematopoietic cell transplantation patients. Optimal sampling and tissue preparation are discussed. Minimal criteria for the diagnosis of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) are proposed, together with specific requirements for the diagnosis of chronic GVHD. Four final diagnostic categories (no GVHD, possible GVHD, consistent with GVHD, and definite GVHD) reflect the integration of histopathology with clinical, laboratory, and radiographic information. Finally, the Working Group developed a set of worksheets to facilitate communication of clinical information to the interpreting pathologist and to aid in clinicopathologic correlation studies. Forms are available at . The recommendations of the Working Group represent a consensus opinion supplemented by evaluation of available peer-reviewed literature. Consensus recommendations and suggested data-capture forms should be validated in prospective clinicopathologic studies.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Hematology, Catalan Institute of Oncology – Hospital Duran I Reynals, Barcelona, Spain
            [2 ]Department of Internal Medicine I, Bone Marrow Transplantation, Medical University of Vienna; Vienna, Austria
            [3 ]Institute for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente, Denver, CO, USA
            [4 ]Outcomes Research Branch, Applied Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA
            [5 ]Department of Hematology, Oncology and Internal Medicine, Medical University of Warsaw, Poland
            [6 ]Department of Internal Medicine III, University of Regensburg, Germany
            [7 ]Anthony Nolan Research Institute, Royal Free Hospital, London, UK
            [8 ]Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA
            [9 ]Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA USA
            Author notes
            Correspondence: Stephanie J. Lee, MD MPH, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA, sjlee@ , (206) 667-5160 (tel), (206) 667-1034 (fax)
            Bone Marrow Transplant
            Bone Marrow Transplant.
            Bone marrow transplantation
            12 November 2013
            19 August 2013
            January 2014
            01 July 2014
            : 49
            : 1
            : 49-54
            23955633 3947261 10.1038/bmt.2013.129 NIHMS505097

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