Patients' experience of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: baseline health-related quality of life results from the LRF CLL4 trial.
Else M., Smith AG., Cocks K., Richards SM., Crofts S., Wade R., Catovsky D.
We examined the effects of active untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), measured by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) at randomisation into the Leukaemia Research Fund CLL4 trial. Patients were scored 0-100 within each of 15 domains. A difference between groups of > or = 10 points was deemed clinically significant (asterisked * below). 431 valid baseline questionnaires were returned. Compared with population norms, patients had impaired HRQoL in 13/15 domains. The greatest differences were in fatigue*, sleep disturbance*, role functioning and global HRQoL. Fatigue was reported by 81% of patients, compared with the next most common symptoms: sleep disturbance (56%) and dyspnoea (49%). There was no association between spleen, liver or lymph node enlargement, or lymphocytosis and any HRQoL domain. Older age (> or =70 years) was associated with poorer physical functioning (P < 0.001) but fewer financial difficulties (P < 0.001*). Impairment of HRQoL at baseline was most apparent in stage A-progressive patients with B-symptoms and stage C patients with haemoglobin <120 g/l: compared with all others, these patients had poorer physical, role and social functioning, more fatigue and dyspnoea and poorer global HRQoL (all P < or = 0.001*). These findings support the recommendation to begin treatment when patients experience symptomatic disease, to improve HRQoL.