Medline: 10561304

The abstract Journal of Clinical Oncology 17(8): 2412-2418, 1999. is available online.

The fulltext Journal of Clinical Oncology 17(8): 2412-2418, 1999. may be available online for subscribers.

Adjuvant or palliative chemotherapy for colorectal cancer in patients 70 years or older.

Popescu RA, Norman A, Ross PJ, et al.


The surgical treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC) in elderly patients (age 70 years or older) has improved, but data on adjuvant and palliative chemotherapy tolerability and benefits in this growing population remain scarce. Elderly patients are underrepresented in clinical trials, and results for older patients are seldom reported separately.

Patients and Methods:
Using a prospective database, we analyzed demographics, chemotherapy toxicity, response rates, failure-free survival (FFS), and overall survival (OS) of CRC patients receiving chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital. The cutoff age was 70 years.

A total of 844 patients received first-line chemotherapy with various fluorouracil (5-FU)-containing regimens or raltitrexed for advanced disease, and 543 patients were administered adjuvant, protracted venous infusion 5-FU or bolus 5-FU/folinic acid (FA) chemotherapy. Of the 1,387 patients, 310 were 70 years or older. There was no difference in overall or severe (Common Toxicity Criteria III to IV) toxicity between the two age groups, with the exception of more frequent severe mucositis in older patients receiving adjuvant bolus 5-FU/FA. For patients receiving palliative chemotherapy, no difference in response rates (24% v 29%, P =.19) and median FFS (164 v 168 days) were detected when the elderly were compared with younger patients. Median OS was 292 days for the elderly group and 350 days for the younger patients (P =.04), and 1-year survival was 44% and 48%, respectively. The length of inpatient hospital stay was identical.

Elderly patients with good performance status tolerated adjuvant and palliative chemotherapy for CRC as well as did younger patients and had similar benefits from palliative chemotherapy.

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