A Comparison of Elderly Patients with Aggressive Histology Lymphoma who Were Entered or Not Entered on to a Randomized Phase II Trial
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The purpose of this study was to compare the baseline patient characteristics, treatments and outcomes of elderly patients with aggressive histology lymphoma who were entered or not entered onto a randomized phase II trial. We previously conducted a randomized phase II trial in patients > or = 65 years of age who had advanced stage intermediate grade lymphoma. A registry of all patients meeting the inclusion criteria for that trial was maintained. Many patients were not entered on to the randomized trial because of the presence of at least one exclusion criterion, or because of patient or physician choice. We have compared the baseline characteristics, treatment, and survival of the randomized and non-randomized patients. Results show that 68 consecutive patients met inclusion criteria for the randomized trial. Thirty-eight patients satisfied all eligibility criteria, consented, and were randomized; 30 patients (44%) were not entered. In comparison with randomized patients, non-randomized patients were older (mean 75.9 vs. 72.4 years; P=0.013), had a poorer performance status (P=0.0006), were less likely to be given treatment with curative intent (60% vs. 100%; P<0.001), and were less likely to complete 6 cycles of such treatment (27% vs. 89%; P<0.001). With a median follow-up of > 7 years, actuarial 5-year survival is superior in randomized patients (44.3% vs. 10%; P<0.00001). In conclusion, a substantial number of patients did not enter our randomized trial phase II trial and had different characteristics, received different therapy and had inferior outcomes in comparison with randomized patients. Randomized trials of therapy for elderly lymphoma patients may include special selection criteria and results may not be generalizable to a substantial proportion of other older patients.
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