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Acta Haematol. 2019;141(3):138-145. doi: 10.1159/000495284. Epub 2019 Feb 15.

Primary CNS Lymphoma in the Elderly: The Challenge.

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Neuro-Oncology Center, Davidoff Cancer Center, Rabin Medical Center - Beilinson Hospital, Petach Tikva, Israel,
Institute of Hematology, Davidoff Cancer Center, Rabin Medical Center - Beilinson Hospital, Petach Tikva, Israel.
Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma is an aggressive brain tumor sensitive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Its incidence has increased in the elderly, and they account for the majority of patients. The median survival of patients older than 70 years did not change over the last 40 years and remained in the range of 6-7 months. The definition of elderly is nonuniform, and chronological age is not the best marker of treatment tolerability or a predictor of treatment-related toxicity. Some patients who are fit can tolerate induction, consolidation, and even high-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem cell transplantation, whereas others who have multiple comorbidities with reduced renal and bone marrow function can tolerate only intermediate doses of methotrexate. The latter may benefit from maintenance treatment. The "elderly" are also susceptible to the accelerated and detrimental cognitive side effects of whole-brain irradiation which is an alternative consolidation to high-dose chemotherapy. The optimal treatment remains an unresolved matter. A comprehensive comorbidity and geriatric assessment is imperative for appraisal of treatment-induced risks for CNS and systemic toxicity. An individualized approach is required aiming to prolong survival while minimizing toxicity. Future studies should assess the potential of new agents for improving outcome and maintaining quality of life.


Autologous stem cell transplantation; Chemotherapy; Clinical trials; Elderly; High-dose methotrexate; Primary CNS lymphoma; Survival; Toxicity

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