PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Approximately 50% of all patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) are 60 years or older and may therefore be considered as elderly. Although the diagnostic work-up is basically the same in young and in elderly patients, therapeutic strategies vary considerably. Here, we review the characteristics of elderly PCNSL patients with a particular focus on advances in the optimization of treatment regimens.
RECENT FINDINGS: Age has been repeatedly confirmed as a major therapy-independent negative prognostic factor. Benefit from treatment and the tolerability of tumor-specific therapy, particularly whole-brain radiotherapy, are significantly lower in the elderly patients. Still, for patients with newly diagnosed PCNSL, several studies emphasized the indisputable role of high-dose methotrexate as backbone for any therapy regimen also in elderly patients. However, the durability of responses to primary chemotherapy is significantly shorter than in young patients. Recent data from a randomized phase II study for elderly PCNSL patients suggest that the combination of high-dose methotrexate, procarbazine, vincristine and cytarabine is superior to methotrexate in combination with temozolomide.
SUMMARY: Current efforts aim at treating elderly PCNSL patients within clinical trials that are specifically designed for this group of patients. Determining adapted consolidation and/or maintenance treatment to improve disease control in responding patients are the main challenges to be faced by future trials. Together with a better understanding of age-specific changes in the biology of PCNSL, this will pave the road for elderly tailored therapies.