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Leuk Lymphoma. 2011 Jun;52(6):994-1002. doi: 10.3109/10428194.2011.557167. Epub 2011 Feb 21.

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in the elderly: diffusion of treatment with rituximab and survival advances with and without anthracyclines.

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Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Anthracycline-based chemotherapy (ABC) is the most effective therapy for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The addition of rituximab to ABC in controlled trials has demonstrated superior survival, yet ABC is inconsistently utilized in elderly patients, and little is known about the penetrance or impact of rituximab with other treatments. We analyzed the treatment and survival patterns of 7559 patients with DLBCL over age 66 diagnosed from 1992 to 2002 using a linked Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database. Rituximab use was first detected in 1999 and by 2002 was incorporated in 79% of ABC-treated patients and 71% of patients treated with non-anthracycline chemotherapy, but only 12% of patients not receiving cytotoxic chemotherapy. ABC rates remained constant across time as did rates of no therapy, which were highest among the very old. Rituximab-associated survival improvements were seen among elderly treated with or without anthracyclines. Patients treated with rituximab but not anthracyclines had comparable survival to those treated with anthracycline but not rituximab.

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