Patient Reported Quality of Life at Diagnosis Correlates to Survival Rates for Aggressive Lymphomas

Though much of the lymphoma research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in December 2014 focused on the growing number of novel therapies for this disease, a subset of presentations focused on the impact of non-pharmaceutical treatment issues such as patient quality of life, maintenance scans, and the presence or absence of various risk factors. These studies, a selection of which are summarized below, demonstrate that research beyond pharmaceutical trials is a crucial component of continuing to improve survival rates in lymphoma.

A study of 701 patients enrolled in the University of Iowa/Mayo Clinic SPORE Molecular Epidemiology Resource found that patients’ self-assessment of their quality of life at time of their lymphoma diagnosis correlates to outcome and survival rates for a number of aggressive T- and B-cell lymphomas. Within 9 months of their diagnosis, patients completed self-assessments measuring physical, social/family, emotional, functional, and spiritual well-being, as well as overall quality of life, which were then translated to a numerical figure on a scale of 0-100. Researchers found that patients with a clinically deficient quality of life (less than 50 on the scale) had a median overall survival of 59 months, compared to 121 months for patients with a quality of life score greater than 50. In fact, all quality of life measures but emotional well-being were significantly associated with overall survival.

The study suggests that patient-reported outcomes are as important as more objective prognostic measures, and that quality of life assessments at diagnosis can be an effective prognostic factor in patients with aggressive lymphoma. Researchers on this study included Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) Scientific Advisory Board members Stephen M. Ansell, MD, PhD and Thomas M. Habermann, MD, both of Mayo Clinic, and Brian K. Link, MD of the University of Iowa. The abstract for this presentation is available here.

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