Introduction: Frailty can adversely affect the outcomes of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT) but is difficult to measure in busy transplant clinics. The limited published studies have used dedicated trained persons and comprehensive geriatric assessment (GA) tools, which are time consuming (Muffly LS, Haematologica 2014; Holmes HM, J Geriatr Oncol 2014; Rodrigues M, J Geriatr Oncol 2019). The difficulty in application of GA tools by transplant clinicians, residents and nurses in their clinics has resulted in low adoption rates in routine practice. At our center we adopted selected tests for frailty and function which could be conducted during pre-transplant consultation in a busy clinic, without extra waiting time for patients, and using existing staff. The Timed up and Go test (TUGT) was adopted as it could be done in any closed clinic room, without need for a corridor. Thus it was considered safer than a gait speed test and was even applicable to patients in "isolation". We aim to share a preliminary analysis of the applicability and correlation between our selected frailty assessment with transplant outcomes and complications.

Methods: Patients referred for transplant underwent the following assessments conducted by different providers. All ages were included. Relevant tests and source of data are as follows:

Frailty and function by clinician evaluating (a) Clinical Frailty scale (CFS) with 9 points based on clinical judgement (Rockwood 2005) (b) Lawton's Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Objective physical performance by nursing BMT coordinator using (a) TUGT and (b) Grip strength using hydraulic "Jamar" hand dynamometer conducted in clinic room at time of documentation. Self assessment by patient completing (a) Self-rated health (SRH) question and (b) a question on falls. Blood tests (a) CRP (b) Albumin.

The present study is a single center prospective observational study. Patients who did not proceed to transplant were excluded. Ninety-six consecutive adult allo-HSCT patients were eligible for the present analysis, updated on July 2019. The parameters were individually correlated with overall survival (OS), non-relapse mortality (NRM), cumulative incidence (cum.Inc) of acute GVHD, median time of transplant hospitalization and readmissions. Multivariate analysis was not performed in this pilot study due to limited number of patients and low frequency of adverse events.

Results: Baseline characteristics and main post-transplant information are noted in Table 1. Median follow up of cohort was 5 months. Table 2 shows the main outcomes (with normal values). For the entire cohort the median OS at 6 months was 73.9% (range 61.7-82.8), NRM at day+100 was 8.7% (range 2.6-14.7), Cum.Inc of Acute GVHD 41.1% (range 30.1-52.1), Cum.Inc gr II-IV acute GVHD was 25.7% (range 15.6-35.9). Relapse occurred in 8 cases (8.3%) and deaths in 23 (23.9%). A TUGT of more than 10 seconds and raised CRP predicted poor OS (p<0.05). Abnormal TUGT, SRH question score of <A (excellent), lower albumin levels and raised CRP levels correlated with high NRM (p<0.05). A Clinical Frailty Score of more than 2, limitations of 1 or more IADLs, Grip strength below normal for age and sex, TUGT >10 seconds, SRH question <A, and lower albumin level were significant predictors for a longer median duration of transplant hospitalization. No frailty or functionality parameter correlated significantly with the Cum.Inc of any grade of acute GVHD, grade II-IV acute GVHD or the risk of rehospitalization after alloHSCT.

Conclusions: Our pilot study shows that with selected brief tools, frailty and functionality can be assessed as part of routine clinical practice in allogeneic-stem cell transplantation in all age groups without extra waiting time for patients or additional human resources. TUGT is a useful prognostic tool which can be conducted in a clinic room and correlates with OS, NRM, and duration of hospitalization. Larger number of patients and longer follow-up will help to evaluate the different assessment modalities as prognostic tools in allo-HSCT and their wider applicability.


Michelis:CSL Behring: Other: Financial Support. Mattsson:Gilead: Honoraria; Celgene: Honoraria; Therakos: Honoraria.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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