Background: Older patients with DLCL are underrepresented in clinical trials, and little is known about the impact of age on therapeutic decisions outside the clinical trial setting. Treatment for older individuals can be influenced by comorbidities, possibly limiting the use of proven aggressive therapies. We investigated the effects of age on patterns of presentation and treatment for patients with DLCL.
Methods: Data from the 5 centers participating in the NCCN NHL Outcomes Project were used for analysis. Patients with newly diagnosed DLCL, receiving some or all of their care at the NCCN institutions, with first presention between 7/01/2000 to 6/30/2004 were included. Independent variables evaluated were stage, International Prognostic Index (IPI), Charlson comorbidity score, NCCN center, and age (≤ 60 and >60). Components of IPI were evaluated as separate independent variables. Fisher’s exact tests compared baseline characteristics between age groups. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression models were developed to identify factors associated with the receipt of anthracycline-based first-line therapy.
Results: Of 417 patients presenting with newly diagnosed DLCL, 376 were eligible for analysis. Older patients (>60 years) accounted for 38% (142/376) of our cohort. The median age was 55.6 years; among older patients, over half were over 70. Older patients were significantly more likely to have HI/H IPI scores (52% vs. 27%, p=0.0001) and more than 2 major comorbidities (29% vs. 8%, p=0.0001). Overall, 18% (66/376) participated in first-line clinical trials, with no difference in participation by age (p=0.49). Among the 310 patients treated off protocol, 93% (289) received an anthracycline-containing first-line regimen. Older patients were less likely to receive anthracyclines [87% (105/120) vs. 97% (184/190)]. Among patients receiving anthracyclines, older patients were more likely to receive growth factor support [78% (82/105) vs.54% (100/184)]. In multivariable logistic regression adjusting for stage, comorbidity, and center, age was the only factor statistically significantly associated with treatment choice, with patients over 60 less likely to receive an anthracycline-based first-line regimen (OR=0.29; 95% CI=0.11 to 0.80 p=0.02).
Conclusions: In a large cohort of patients with newly diagnosed DLCL, we found that older patients (>60 years) with DLCL had both higher risk disease, and more comorbidity at diagnosis. In our centers, there was no difference in clinical trail participation between older and younger patients; however, older patients were less likely to receive anthracyclines.