Casulo C, Byrtek M, Dawson K, Zhou X, Flowers C, Farber C, Hainsworth J, Cerhan J, Link B, Friedberg J. Disease characteristics, treatment patterns, and outcomes of follicular lymphoma in patients 40 years of age and younger: an analysis from the National LymphoCare Study. Poster presented at the 56th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition; December 7, 2014. San Francisco, CA. [abstract] Blood. 2014 Dec 6; 124(21):3044. doi: 10.1182/blood.V124.21.3044.3044

Introduction: Follicular lymphoma (FL) is the most common indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the world and has a median age at diagnosis in the seventh decade. FL in young adults (YA; 40 years old or younger) is extremely rare. Currently, there are no standard approaches guiding treatment of YA patients with FL, and very little is known about disease characteristics and outcomes of YA patients with FL given limited research conducted in this vulnerable population.

To gain further insight into FL in YA, we analyzed the National LymphoCare Study (NLCS) to describe disease and patient characteristics, as well as features of treatment in YA patients with FL. We previously reported that 2-year progression-free survival (PFS) is an important survival endpoint in patients with FL undergoing chemo-immunotherapy. Hence, we also sought to characterize 2-year PFS in this age group and compare it to older cohorts.

Methods: Evaluable patients were identified in the NLCS, and those between 18–40 years of age with newly diagnosed FL at any stage were classified as YA patients. Patients with mixed histology or transformed disease were excluded, as were patients with progression of disease prior to beginning first-line treatment. Survival probability was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. We estimated the association of age group with PFS using hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) from multivariable Cox models.

Results: A total of 164 YA patients with FL were analyzed, representing 6.2% of the NLCS population, similar to the observed frequency in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program data (4.8% of all FL). Sixty nine percent of YA patients had advanced stage disease. The majority of patients (80%) had low-grade histology, and 50% had good risk disease according to the Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index (FLIPI). Nineteen percent of patients (31/164) underwent watchful waiting, 12% received rituximab monotherapy, and 47% received chemo-immunotherapy (61% of whom received R-CHOP [rituximab, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone]). There was no significant difference in FLIPI score or other baseline disease characteristics compared to adult patients aged 41–60 years.

Eleven deaths occurred among YA with FL; only 5 of these were lymphoma related. Overall survival (OS) at 2 years was 97.4% (95% CI 93.3%, 99.0%), and at 5 years, 93.7% (88.3%, 96.7%), which was similar to patients aged 41–60 (97.2% [96.0%, 98.0%] at 2 years, and 92.0% [90.1%, 93.5%] at 5 years). After a median follow-up of 7.1 years, OS in YA FL was 92%. Through follow-up, there were 64 PFS events. The estimated 2-year PFS (95% CI) for YA and adults 41–60 was 75.9% (67.1%, 82.6%) and 80.9% (78.1%, 83.4%), respectively. After adjusting for FLIPI score, there was no difference in PFS for YA with FL requiring first-line treatment (excluding watchful waiting) compared to adults aged 41–60 years (HR=0.93; 95% CI 0.69, 1.25), and no difference in OS compared to adults aged 41–60 years (HR=1.19; 95% CI 0.64, 2.23).

Conclusions: In the largest cohort of YA patients with FL to date, we found few differences in outcomes compared to patients aged 41–60. FLIPI and other disease characteristics were similar to adults aged 41–60 years. There were no differences between YA FL and adults aged 41–60 in PFS for all treated patients. OS in the YA group of patients with FL was outstanding. YA patients with FL have reassuringly similar outcomes to patients aged 41–60. Fertility preservation and survivorship issues should be taken into consideration when defining management strategies, but otherwise these data support that YA patients with FL should not be approached differently from older adults with the same disease.

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