Age no bar to benefits of lung cancer chemo

New research strongly suggests that advanced age alone should not preclude an elderly patient with non-small cell lung cancer (the most common type) from receiving chemotherapy.

According to a report in the journal Chest, chemotherapy tends to be as effective and well tolerated among elderly patients with non-small cell lung cancer as it is in their younger counterparts.

Non-small cell lung cancer, one of the deadliest and poorly treated types of cancer, is a typical disease of the elderly, with a peak incidence at around 70 to 80 years of age.

Elderly patients, say study investigators, may be treated suboptimally, and their participation in clinical trials is less than that among younger patients, even though their age group experiences a higher incidence of lung cancer.

Dr. Yuh-Min Chen, at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, and colleagues reviewed three clinical trials they had conducted among patients with non-small cell lung cancer, comparing outcomes among patients age 70 years and older with those of younger patients.

In all three trials, response rates and survival times were not markedly different between older patients and younger patients, leading Chen’s team to conclude, “age itself should not preclude an elderly patient from receiving chemotherapy.”

Treatment choices should be based on “clinical sense,” they add, as well as what is known about the toxicity of chemotherapy agents, patient comorbidities, cost considerations and patient preferences.

SOURCE: Chest, July 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Dave R. Roger, M.D.