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This article is the author’s final published version in Neuro-Oncology Advances, Volume 3, Issue 1, October 2021, Article number vdab153.

The published version is available at

Copyright © Song et al.

Publication made possible in part by support from the Jefferson Open Access Fund


Background: Lymphopenia may lead to worse outcomes for glioblastoma patients. This study is a secondary analysis of the CCTG CE.6 trial evaluating the impact of chemotherapy and radiation on lymphopenia, and effects of lymphopenia on overall survival (OS).

Methods: CCTG CE.6 randomized elderly glioblastoma patients (≥ 65 years) to short-course radiation alone (RT) or short-course radiation with temozolomide (RT + TMZ). Lymphopenia (mild-moderate: grade 1-2; severe: grade 3-4) was defined per CTCAE v3.0, and measured at baseline, 1 week and 4 weeks post-RT. Preselected key factors for analysis included age, sex, ECOG, resection extent, MGMT methylation, Mini-Mental State Examination, and steroid use. Multinomial logistic regression and multivariable Cox regression models were used to identify lymphopenia-associated factors and association with survival.

Results: Five hundred and sixty-two patients were analyzed (281 RT vs 281 RT+TMZ). At baseline, both arms had similar rates of mild-moderate (21.4% vs 21.4%) and severe (3.2% vs 2.9%) lymphopenia. However, at 4 weeks post-RT, RT+TMZ was more likely to develop lymphopenia (mild-moderate: 27.9% vs 18.2%; severe: 9.3% vs 1.8%; pP < .001). Baseline lymphopenia (hazard ratio [HR] 1.3) was associated with worse OS (HR: 1.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05-1.62; P = .02), regardless of MGMT status.

Conclusions: Development of post-RT lymphopenia is associated with addition of TMZ and baseline lymphopenia and not with RT alone in patients treated with short-course radiation. However, regardless of MGMT status, only baseline lymphopenia is associated with worse OS, which may be considered as a prognostic biomarker for elderly glioblastoma patients.

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