In the era of immunochemotherapy, the traditional international prognostic index (IPI) has partially lost its predictive value in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network-IPI (NCCN-IPI) is unable to effectively identify high-risk patients. Thus, the present study aimed to develop a modified prognostic model (M-PM) to identify high-risk patients that require aggressive treatment. The present study included 169 patients with newly diagnosed DLBCL treated with rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone (RCHOP) or RCHOP-like regimens, between 2011–2017. The results demonstrated that the risk discrimination was improved in the NCCN-IPI compared with the IPI, and patients were divided into four risk groups with a 5-year overall survival rate of 93.8, 76.5, 54.3 and 39.4%, respectively. However, the NCCN-IPI failed to identify the high-risk DLBCL population. The newly developed M-PM presented here included four parameters: Age (≥65 years), an elevated lactate dehydrogenase level, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group score ≥2 and total metabolic tumor volume ≥300 cm3. The M-PM also divided patients into four risk groups that comprised 40.8, 23.1, 26.0 and 10.1% of the patients, and the 5-year survival rates of these groups were 92.4, 70.6, 52.3 and 24.5%, respectively. Taken together, the results of the present study demonstrated that the M-PM was more accurate compared with the IPI and the NCCN-IPI, which served as an effective tool for identifying patients with DLBCL at high risk of an adverse prognosis.