A simplified frailty score predicts survival and can aid treatment-intensity decisions in older patients with DLBCL

Blood Adv. 2021 Nov 23;5(22):4771-4782. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2021004777.


Patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) have a median age of 70 years. Yet, empirical knowledge about the treatment of older patients is limited because they are frequently excluded from clinical trials. We aimed to construct a simplified frailty score and examine survival and treatment-related mortality (TRM) according to frailty status and treatment intensity in an older real-world population with DLBCL. All patients aged ≥70 years diagnosed with DLBCL between 2006 and 2016 in southeastern Norway (N = 784) were included retrospectively and divided into training (n = 522) and validation (n = 262) cohorts. We constructed and validated a frailty score based on geriatric assessment variables and examined survival and TRM according to frailty status and treatment. The frailty score identified 3 frailty groups with distinct survival and TRM, independent of established prognostic factors (2-year overall survival [OS]: fit, 82%; unfit, 47%; frail, 14%; P < .001). For fit patients, full-dose R-CHOP (initial dosage >80%) was associated with better survival than attenuated R-CHOP ([R-miniCHOP]; 2-year OS: 86% vs 70%; P = .012), also in adjusted analyses. For unfit and frail patients, full-dose R-CHOP was not superior to R-miniCHOP, whereas an anthracycline-free regimen was associated with poorer survival in adjusted analyses. A simplified frailty score identified unfit and frail patients with a higher risk for death and TRM, which can aid treatment-intensity decisions in older patients with DLBCL. In this study, fit patients benefited from full-dose R-CHOP, whereas unfit and frail patients had no benefit from full-dose R-CHOP over R-miniCHOP. An online calculator for assessment of the frailty score is available at https://wide.shinyapps.io/app-frailty/.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use
  • Frailty* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse* / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use
  • Vincristine / therapeutic use


  • Rituximab
  • Vincristine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide