Gentle yet effective therapies are called for when treating patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who are age 65 years and older. While there is no standard treatment for most of those patients, several regimens are being tested in clinical trials, according to Alessandra Ferrajoli, MD, who spoke at the 17th Annual International Congress on Hematologic Malignancies.
The treatment of elderly patients with CLL is an important area of study because 69% of patients with the disease fit into that category at the time of diagnosis, making them more likely to have comorbidities that compromise their ability to tolerate aggressive treatments, said Ferrajoli, an associate professor in the Department of Leukemia at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In fact, she said, at age 70 years, one-third of such patients have two or more comorbidities. Compared with people age 65 years and older in the general population, people in that age group who have CLL face a significantly increased mortality rate, she added.