A common question arising among patients with newly diagnosed DLBCL is how soon to begin treatment. While it is generally considered more appropriate to start chemotherapy sooner rather than later after diagnosis, the exact impact of this time interval on treatment outcomes is unknown. At the recent Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, Dr. Kevin A. Hay from the University of British Columbia presented the results of a retrospective study evaluating the association of patient outcomes with time to initiation of treatment.
Dr. Hay retrospectively divided 793 patients with DLBCL and at least one cycle of R-CHOP into four groups based on the amount of time between initial diagnosis and beginning of therapy. A total of 25% of respondents received R-CHOP within 2 weeks of diagnosis, 31% in 2-4 weeks, 37% in 5-8 weeks, and 7% at longer than 8 weeks. Interestingly, there was no statistically significant difference in survival between the groups. The authors concluded that the timing of chemotherapy initiation appeared to be related to clinical factors (i.e., sicker patients were treated sooner) rather than medical system or socioeconomic barriers. While detrimental outcomes were lacking in those patients who began treatment after 8 weeks, they recommended beginning chemotherapy as soon as possible after an initial diagnosis of DLBCL.