Elderly lung cancer patients tolerate aggressive chemotherapy as well as younger patients

PHILADELPHIA According to a newly published study by researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, fit elderly patients are able to tolerate aggressive chemotherapy regimens as well as younger patients when being treated for non-small cell lung cancer. This was reported in the February 6, 2002 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

There is a perception within the medical field that elderly patients cannot tolerate combined or aggressive chemotherapy regimens and therefore are often prescribed single agent or best supportive care alone, says Corey Langer, MD, director of thoracic and head and neck medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center and lead author on the paper. This study proves that relatively fit elderly patients can tolerate more aggressive chemotherapy to treat non-small cell lung cancer.

In the retrospective analysis, medical records were evaluated of 574 patients who were diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, a slow-growing cancer, which accounts for 80 to 85 percent of the 170,000 cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the United States each year. Patients in the study had been given a fixed dose of cisplatin and randomly assigned to one of three distinct chemotherapy regimens, etoposide, high dose paclitaxel or low dose paclitaxel. When comparing results of older patients to younger patients, the researchers found no difference in the response rate to the drugs and the median and overall survival rates of older patients were comparable to the younger patients treated with the same agents. It was previously reported that most patients did better on the paclitaxel and cisplatin regimen.

Of the 574 patients, 86 of them were 70 years or older and 488 patients were under 70 years of age. Of the 488 patients under 70 years of age, 22 percent had either complete or partial response to treatment. And of the 86 participants 70 years or older, 23 percent achieved a complete or partial response. Overall aver

Contact: Sue Madden
Fox Chase Cancer Center

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