Thalidomide with melphalan/prednisone (MPT) was defined as standard treatment in elderly patients with multiple myeloma (MM) based on five randomized trials. In one of these trials, HOVON49, a prospective health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) study was initiated in order to assess the impact of thalidomide on QoL. Patients aged >65 years with newly diagnosed MM were randomized to receive melphalan plus prednisone (MP) or MPT, followed by thalidomide maintenance in the MPT arm. Two hundred eighty-four patients were included in this side study (MP, n = 149; MPT n = 135). HRQoL was assessed with the EORTC Core QoL Questionnaire (QLQ-C30) and the myeloma-specific module (QLQ-MY24) at baseline and at predetermined intervals during treatment. The QLQ-C30 subscales physical function (P = 0.044) and constipation (P < 0.001) showed an improvement during induction in favour of the MP arm. During thalidomide maintenance, the scores for the QLQ-MY24 paraesthesia became significantly higher in the MPT arm (P<0.001). The QLQ-C30 subscales pain (P = 0.12), insomnia (P = 0.068), appetite loss (P = 0.074) and the QLQ-MY24 item sick (P = 0.086) scored marginally better during thalidomide maintenance. The overall QoL-scale QLQ-C30-HRQoL showed a significant time trend towards more favourable mean values during protocol treatment without differences between MP and MPT. For the QLQ-C30 subscales emotional function and future perspectives, difference in favour of the MPT arm from the start of treatment was observed (P = 0.018 and P = 0.045, respectively) with no significant 'time × arm' interaction, indicating a persistent better patient perspective with MPT treatment. This study shows that the higher frequency of toxicity associated with MPT does not translate into a negative effect on HRQoL and that MPT holds a better patient perspective.

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Annals of Hematology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Verelst, S., Termorshuizen, F., Uyl-de Groot, C., Schaafsma, M., Ammerlaan, R., Wittebol, S., … Wijermans, P. (2011). Effect of thalidomide with melphalan and prednisone on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in elderly patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma: a prospective analysis in a randomized trial. Annals of Hematology (Vol. 90, pp. 1427–1439). doi:10.1007/s00277-011-1224-1