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After 25 years, evaluation of minimal residual disease (MRD) in follicular lymphoma (FL) has become a standardized technique frequently integrated in clinical trials for its consistent and independent prognostic significance. Achievement of a sustained MRD negativity is a marker of treatment sensibility that has been associated with excellent clinical outcome in terms of clinical response and progression-free survival, independently from the employed therapy. However, no survival advantages has been reported for MRD negative patients and despite the compelling results of clinical trials, MRD evaluation has currently no role in clinical practice. Ongoing clinical trials will help in clarifying the potential setting in which MRD monitoring may have a routine clinical application i.e. allowing de-escalation of standard maintenance therapy in very low risk patients. In this review the clinical implications of MRD monitoring in Rituximab-era are discussed in light of the current treatment paradigms most aimed at reducing toxicities, and the response definition that now routinely integrates PET scan.
Keywords: Follicular lymphoma, minimal residual disease, molecular remission, outcome prediction