Quality of Life May Raise Quantity of Life With Lymphoma

Lymphoma patients with good quality of life had best survival rates

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Feeling good about life may make it last a little longer. Lymphoma patients with high quality of life may live longer than those with lower life satisfaction.

A new Mayo Clinic study found that quality of life affected the survival rate of patients with aggressive lymphoma. Patients with the highest overall quality of life survived much longer than those with lower scores.

The authors of this study said health care professionals should assess their patients at the time of diagnosis to determine their quality of life. Those who have low scores may be referred for therapy.

Carrie A. Thompson, MD, a hematologist at the Mayo Clinic, led this study. It was presented Dec. 8 at the 56th American Society of Hematology annual meeting in San Francisco.

"We studied a large sample of patients with aggressive lymphoma and found that their baseline quality of life is predictive of overall survival and event-free survival, even after adjustment for known factors related to survival," Dr. Thompson said in a press release. "Our findings provide evidence that patient-reported outcomes are as important as other more objective International Prognostic Indicators (IPI) and that quality of life should be assessed at diagnosis as a prognostic factor in patients with aggressive lymphoma."

The IPI is a tool used to help predict the health outcomes (prognosis) of patients with aggressive lymphoma. Lymphoma is a blood cell cancer that develops from white blood cells. 

Dr. Thompson and team followed 701 patients with aggressive lymphoma from 2002 to 2009. These patients ranged in age from 18 to 92.

These patients answered a survey called the Functional Assessment of Cancer Treatment-General scale (FACT-G). The FACT-G measures quality of life in four areas: functional, physical, emotional and social/family well-being. The survey also included questions about spiritual well-being and one question about overall quality of life.

Some patients had already begun therapy for lymphoma at the time the study started. Others completed the survey before they started therapy. Forty-seven percent of the patients completed the survey before starting therapy. Fifty-three percent had already started therapy when they answered the questions.

For the entire study population, the midpoint score for overall well-being was 83. Midpoint scores for functional, physical, emotional and social/family well-being were 18, 22, 18 and 25, respectively.

Dr. Thompson and team also looked at what they called “events,” such as the lymphoma getting worse. An event could signal a setback, complication or other problem.

When these researchers followed up 71 months after the study began, 316 of the patients in the study had experienced such an event. Also, 228 patients in the study had died.

Dr. Thompson and colleagues found that overall higher scores in quality of life measures were significantly tied to survival. They also found a tie between higher quality-of-life scores and fewer events.

Patients who scored less than 50 on the FACT-G scale had a median survival rate of 59 months. Those who had scores above 50 survived a median of 121 months.

This study was presented Dec. 8 at the 56th American Society of Hematology annual meeting. Studies presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

The research was funded by the University of Iowa/Mayo Clinic Lymphoma Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, the Predolin Foundation, and the Arnold and Kit Palmer Benefactor Award. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 11, 2014
Last Updated:
December 14, 2014