The prognosis of Hodgkin's disease in older adults
This investigation was undertaken to assess the apparent poor survival of older patients with Hodgkin's disease. The clinical course of Hodgkin's disease in 136 patients, 60 to 79 years of age, was compared with that of 223 patients, 40 to 59 years of age. The patients registered from November 1977 through December 1983 had not been previously treated, and were treated at eight cancer centers. When the prognosis of all patients was examined by age, a definite change in the pattern of survival first appeared in the 60- to 69-year-old cohort. The entire older group (60 to 79 years) experienced twice the risk of dying from Hodgkin's disease and four times the risk of dying from other causes than did the younger group. In both groups, stage of disease was the strongest factor in predicting adjusted survival. Delay in treatment and advanced stage at presentation were not characteristic of Hodgkin's disease in older patients as has been postulated. Older patients responded to therapy with a similar complete remission rate (84% v 88% in the younger group, P = .24). From this study, we conclude that (1) Hodgkin's disease in the older adult does not have a different natural history, its major risk factors are similar to those known in other age groups, and thus should be amenable to existing therapeutic approaches; and (2) the prognosis of older patients with Hodgkin's disease has been obscured in previous studies by the inclusion of deaths due to other causes in survival estimates.