Chemotherapy of advanced non-small cell lung cancer in elderly patients

A Rossi, C Gridelli
Annals of Oncology: Official Journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology 2006, 17 Suppl 2: ii58-60
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) may be considered typical of advanced age. More than 50% of NSCLC patients are diagnosed over the age of 65 and approximately one-third of all patients are over the age of 70. Elderly patients tolerate chemotherapy poorly compared to their younger counterpart because of the progressive reduction of organ function and comorbidities related to age. For this reason, these patients are often not considered eligible for aggressive platinum-based chemotherapy, the standard medical treatment for advanced NSCLC. With the current evidence, in clinical practice, single-agent chemotherapy with a third-generation drug (vinorelbine, gemcitabine, taxanes) should be the recommended option for non-selected elderly patients with advanced NSCLC. Subset analyses suggest that the efficacy of platinum-based combination chemotherapy is similar in fit older and younger patients, with an acceptable increase in toxicity for elderly patients. However, feasibility of platinum-based chemotherapy remains an open issue and has to be proven in prospective randomised trials. High priority should be also given to the evaluation of the role of new targeted therapies. Moreover, a comprehensive geriatric assessment for individualized treatment choice in NSCLC elderly patients is mandatory.

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