Survival of Patients with Follicular Lymphoma is Improving

Researchers from the University of Iowa have concluded that the survival of patients with follicular lymphoma (FL) has improved over the past 25 years. The details of this analysis were published in the August 1, 2005, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology (abstract).

Over the past 25 years many therapeutic options have been developed for the treatment of patients with follicular lymphoma, including radiation therapy, anthracycline-based combination chemotherapy and more recently Rituxan(R) (rituximab). Many randomized trials have suggested that these treatments have improved survival. However, there are have been no population studies to confirm that these treatments have an impact on the entire population of patients, most of whom will not have participated in randomized trials.

The authors of this study looked at outcomes of 14,564 patients diagnosed with FL between 1978 and 1999. They used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data for these analyses. They divided outcomes into two blocks: 1983-1989 and 1990-1999.

Researchers reported that the median survival time improved by 11% over time except for black patients. Black and white patients had similar survivals in the early period, but whites had better survivals with time and blacks did not. They estimated that the relative risk for death decreased by 1.8% per year in the 1983-1999 period for a hazard reduction in the risk of death of 25%. These trends began before the availability of Rituxan in 1997. For patients with localized disease, improvement in survival was mainly limited to younger patients who presumably received more intensive therapy. The improvement in outcomes of stage IV disease was apparent in both young and old patients.

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