Treatment of Lymphomas in Patients Over 65 yrs of Age (#23)
The commonest lymphomas presenting in patients over 65 years of age are represented predominantly by diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), follicular lymphoma (FL), and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). As is the case with the treatment of other cancers in older patients, performance status (PS) and the presence of co-morbidities are critical factors in treatment decisions regarding the tolerability of potentially curable chemotherapy. In DLBCL recommended treatment for patients > 60 years includes 6 to 8 cycles of R-CHOP at intervals of either 14 or 21 days. Pre-phase prednisone has been shown to be important in the amelioration of the first dose effect with respect to toxicity and early death in older patients, as well as in the abrogation of tumour lysis. Similarly, early use of prophylactic G-CSF has been shown to reduce toxicity and maximize dose-intensity particularly in those with impaired PS, low albumin, or advanced age. Dose attenuation strategies may be effective in some patients over the age of 75 or 80 years although the best outcomes are seen in those who complete at least 6 cycles of full dose R-CHOP. Novel scheduling of rituximab designed to increase early levels as well as to extend rituximab exposure appears to improve overall survival in patients with an intermediate to high International Prognostic Index (IPI) and particularly in males since they conventionally have inferior outcomes compared to females. In FL, the addition of rituximab to chemotherapy, particularly CHOP and CVP, has been shown to improve overall response rates, response duration, and overall survival compared to chemotherapy alone. Similarly, maintenance rituximab increases rates of response, remission duration, and time to next therapy, although no impact on overall survival has yet been confirmed. In first line treatment of patients with FL or MCL, Bendamustine with rituximab has been shown to be equally effective as R-CHOP or R-CVP but without the side effects of alopecia or peripheral neuropathy. Novel agents such as Lenalidomide, Ibrutinib, and new monoclonal antibodies appear to be promising in the treatment of patients with relapsed FL, MCL and other indolent B-cell lymphomas.