Comorbidity and treatment decision-making in elderly non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients: a survey among haematologists

M. W. M van der Poel*, W. J. Mulder, G. J. Ossenkoppele, E. Maartense, P. Wijermans, M. Hoogendoorn, H. C. Schouten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Elderly patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) are often not treated with standard immunochemotherapy and this might have a negative impact on their survival. Little is known about the determinants that play a role in treatment decision-making of clinicians regarding elderly patients with NHL. The objective of this study was to gain more insight into these determinants.Methods: A survey was conducted amongst haematologists in the Netherlands. The survey contained questions about comorbidity, polypharmacy, social setting, nutritional status, depression, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) in relation to treatment decisions in elderly NHL patients.Results: Of all comorbidities, respondents designated cognitive disorders and cardiovascular comorbidity as the most important factors when assessing whether an older patient with NHL is eligible for curative treatment. Also in decreasing degree of importance ADL, IADL and depressive disorder are frequently included in treatment decision-making. Almost half of the respondents feel that treatment of the elderly person is complicated as a result of a lack of scientific evidence.Conclusion: Haematologists are aware of coexisting problems in elderly patients and they frequently take comorbidities, cognitive disorders and functional status into consideration in treatment decision-making. Future studies are needed to determine the exact role that these factors should play in the treatment of elderly patients. Furthermore, haematologists feel that treatment of the elderly is complicated and there is a lack of scientific evidence, and therefore older adults should be better represented in clinical trials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-169
JournalNetherlands Journal of Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Comorbidity
  • elderly
  • non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • survey


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