Background: We investigated treatment of unselected elderly patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and its subsequent impact on treatment tolerance and survival. Patients and methods: Data from all 419 advanced-stage DLBCL patients, aged 75 or older and newly diagnosed between 1997 and 2004, were included from five regional population-based cancer registries in The Netherlands. Subsequent data on comorbidity, performance status, treatment, motives for adaptations or refraining from chemotherapy and toxic effects was collected from the medical records. Follow-up was completed until 1st January 2009. Results: Only 46% of patients received the standard therapy [aggressive chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone (CHOP)-like chemotherapy]. Motives for withholding chemotherapy were refusal by patient/family, poor performance status or estimated short life expectancy. Of all patients receiving CHOP-like chemotherapy, only 56% could complete at least six cycles. Grade 3 or 4 toxicity occurred in 67% of patients receiving standard therapy. The independent effect of therapy on survival remained after correction for the age-adjusted International Prognostic Index. Conclusions: Standard therapy was applied less often in elderly patients with a subsequent independent negative impact on survival. Furthermore, high toxicity rate and the impossibility of the majority of patients to complete treatment were seen. This implies that better treatment strategies should be devised including a proper selection of senior patients for this aggressive chemotherapy.

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Annals of Oncology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van de Schans, S., Wymenga, M., van Spronsen, D. J., Schouten, H., Coebergh, J. W., & Janssen-Heijnen, M. (2012). Two sides of the medallion: Poor treatment tolerance but better survival by standard chemotherapy in elderly patients with advanced-stage diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Annals of Oncology, 23(5), 1280–1286. doi:10.1093/annonc/mdr411