Real-world challenges of managing Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma in a developing country

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Purpose: To highlight challenges and cancer care disparities in patients of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma management in resource-constrained settings.
Materials and methods: This multicenter retrospective study included 738 patients from 12 public and private sector hematology-oncology centers across Pakistan. Patients were divided into limited-resource and enhanced-resource settings as per national diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) guidelines.
Results: The median age at diagnosis was 47 years (range, 14-89). Male:female ratio was 2.5:1. Majority of the patients (69.3%) were treated in limited-resource settings. Computed tomography was used as a staging modality in 442 (60%) patients. Limited-stage DLBCL was present in 13.5% of patients, while 86.3% had advanced-stage disease at diagnosis. First-line regimens included rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone in 56% and cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone in 34% of patients, while 10% of patients received palliative regimens upfront. Of evaluable data, complete remission was documented in 299 (74.4%) patients, 39 (9.8%) had partial response and 63 (13.5%) had progressive disease. Disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) status were not available for 345 (46.8%) patients at the time of data collection. Overall study cohort had a median follow-up of 2.2 years with a median OS of 3.6 years (95% CI, 3.1 to 4.1), median DFS of 3.1 years (95% CI, 2.6 to 3.6), and a 5-year OS of 40% and DFS of 36%.
Conclusion: Patients from low- and middle-income countries present at an earlier age and have more advanced disease. Patients were frequently lost to follow-up, and record keeping was inadequate more so in patients treated in limited-resource settings. There is a need to establish a national lymphoma registry, improve record keeping, and standardize treatments to ensure improvement in treatment outcomes.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

JCO Global Oncology