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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Racial differences in treatment and survival in older patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)

Robert Griffiths12*, Michelle Gleeson1, Kevin Knopf3 and Mark Danese1

Author Affiliations

1 Outcomes Insights, Inc., Westlake Village, CA, USA

2 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

3 California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:625  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-625

Published: 12 November 2010

Abstract

Background

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) comprises 31% of lymphomas in the United States. Although it is an aggressive type of lymphoma, 40% to 50% of patients are cured with treatment. The study objectives were to identify patient factors associated with treatment and survival in DLBCL.

Methods

Using Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry data linked to Medicare claims, we identified 7,048 patients diagnosed with DLBCL between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2005. Patients were followed from diagnosis until the end of their claims history (maximum December 31, 2007) or death. Medicare claims were used to characterize the first infused chemo-immunotherapy (C-I therapy) regimen and to identify radiation. Multivariate analyses were performed to identify patient demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical factors associated with treatment and with survival. Outcomes variables in the survival analysis were all-cause mortality, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) mortality, and other/unknown cause mortality.

Results

Overall, 84% (n = 5,887) received C-I therapy or radiation treatment during the observation period: both, 26%; C-I therapy alone, 53%; and radiation alone, 5%. Median age at diagnosis was 77 years, 54% were female, 88% were white, and 43% had Stage III or IV disease at diagnosis. The median time to first treatment was 42 days, and 92% of these patients had received their first treatment by day 180 following diagnosis. In multivariate analysis, the treatment rate was significantly lower among patients ≥ 80 years old, blacks versus whites, those living in a census tract with ≥ 12% poverty, and extra-nodal disease. Blacks had a lower treatment rate overall (Hazard Ratio [HR] 0.77; P < 0.001), and were less likely to receive treatment within 180 days of diagnosis (Odds Ratio [OR] 0.63; P = 0.002) than whites. In multivariate survival analysis, black race was associated with higher all-cause mortality (HR 1.24; P = 0.01) and other/unknown cause mortality (HR 1.35; P = 0.01), but not mortality due to NHL (HR 1.16; P = 0.19).

Conclusions

In elderly patients diagnosed with DLBCL, there are large differences in treatment access and survival between blacks and whites.