Younger Lymphoma Survivors May Be at Higher Risk of Other Diseases Later in Life

Aggressive treatments given to younger patients with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma may leave them vulnerable to other diseases later in life, according to a study in the AACR journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 

The treatments relatively younger patients receive when stricken with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL) may leave them more vulnerable to kidney failure, pneumonia, and nutritional deficiencies later in life than older B-NHL survivors, suggests a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. 

“Thanks to therapy improvements, non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivors are living longer and thriving in many aspects,” said Krista Ocier, PhD, MPH, first author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Mia Hashibe, PhD, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah and senior author of the study. “However, side effects from the current treatment regimens can be debilitating over time, affecting the overall health of NHL survivors as they age.”

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is most frequently diagnosed in people aged 65-74; however, some subtypes are diagnosed at younger ages, and younger patients often undergo more aggressive treatment regimens. 

The researchers compared younger and older B-NHL survivors (diagnosed when they were under the age of 65 or L to 65 or older, respectively),  at least five years after diagnosis. 

Compared with the general population, the risk of acute renal failure was increased 2.24-fold in younger survivors and 1.13-fold in older survivors; the risk of pneumonia was increased 2.42-fold in younger survivors and 1.44-fold in older survivors; and the risk of nutritional deficiencies was increased 2.08-fold in younger survivors and 1.25-fold in older survivors.

“This may be due in part to the aggressive treatment regimens that are often administered to younger non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients compared with older patients,” said Dr. Ocier.

In 2019, there were more than 700,000 non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivors in the U.S., with a five-year survival rate of 72.7 percent. 

“Cancer survivorship is an important area of research,” Dr. Ocier said. “We hope our study will be helpful for patients and their clinicians to understand what diseases may occur at a higher incidence after treatment is completed and will inform the creation of a plan for achieving optimal care and well-being during and after treatment.”