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Caron A. Jacobson and Arnold S. Freedman

Given the incurable yet indolent nature of follicular lymphoma (FL) and the lack of a survival benefit seen with the early treatment of patients with a low tumor burden, watchful waiting has been the predominant strategy for treating asymptomatic patients with newly diagnosed FL for more than 2 decades. The success and tolerability of rituximab for the treatment of this disease, however, has led to challenges for this treatment paradigm and the consideration of early upfront treatment with rituximab monotherapy, with or without rituximab maintenance. These strategies have resulted in improvements in quality of life with a low incidence of toxicity and have led some to practice changes. However, based on uncertainty about how early treatment affects response to second treatment, the differential cost of treatment, and the lack of a survival benefit, observation remains an appropriate and viable strategy for select patients.

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P. Connor Johnson, Caron Jacobson, Alisha Yi, Anna Saucier, Tejaswini M. Dhawale, Ashley Nelson, Mitchell W. Lavoie, Mathew J. Reynolds, Carlisle E.W. Topping, Matthew J. Frigault, and Areej El-Jawahri

Background: CAR T-cell therapy has revolutionized the treatment of patients with hematologic malignancies, but it can result in prolonged hospitalizations and serious toxicities. However, data on the impact of CAR T-cell therapy on healthcare utilization and end-of-life (EoL) outcomes are lacking. Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 236 patients who received CAR T-cell therapy at 2 tertiary care centers from February 2016 through December 2019. We abstracted healthcare utilization and EoL outcomes from the electronic health record, including hospitalizations, receipt of ICU care, hospitalization and receipt of systemic therapy in the last 30 days of life, palliative care, and hospice referrals. Results: Most patients (81.4%; n=192) received axicabtagene ciloleucel. Overall, 28.1% of patients experienced a hospital readmission and 15.5% required admission to the ICU within 3 months of CAR T-cell therapy. Among the deceased cohort, 58.3% (49/84) were hospitalized and 32.5% (26/80) received systemic therapy in the last 30 days of life. Rates of palliative care and hospice referrals were 47.6% and 30.9%, respectively. In multivariable logistic regression, receipt of bridging therapy (odds ratio [OR], 3.15; P=.041), index CAR-T hospitalization length of stay >14 days (OR, 4.76; P=.009), hospital admission within 3 months of CAR T-cell infusion (OR, 4.29; P=.013), and indolent lymphoma transformed to diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (OR, 9.83; P=.012) were associated with likelihood of hospitalization in the last 30 days of life. Conclusions: A substantial minority of patients receiving CAR T-cell therapy experienced hospital readmission or ICU utilization in the first 3 months after CAR T-cell therapy, and most deceased recipients of CAR T-cell therapy received intensive EoL care. These findings underscore the need for interventions to optimize healthcare delivery and EoL care for this population.