Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Lung Cancer. 2000 Apr;28(1):43-50.

Radiotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer in patients aged 75 and over: safety, effectiveness and possible impact on survival.

Author information

  • 1Unità di Radioterapia Oncologica, Azienda ULSS 21, Via Gianella 1, 37045, Legnago, Italy.


For patients with advanced, inoperable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), increasing age seems to be the primary reason of receiving no treatment. The elderly aged 75 years and over are more likely to be given only supportive care (irrespective of symptoms) or no therapy at all. We evaluated the outcome of 48 patients, aged 75 years and over, treated with radiation therapy for advanced (stage IIIA-B), inoperable, symptomatic NSCLC. A median dose of 50 Gy was delivered to the primary site and mediastinum with standard fractionation. Based on WHO criteria, of 47 assessable patients, 21 had partial remission, 17 stable disease, and nine had progressive disease. Most symptoms were successfully palliated. Toxicity was negligible and mainly consisted of WHO grade I-II esophagitis. Despite the overall median survival being short (5 months), dose-related survival was much better in patients given at least 50 Gy than in those treated with lower doses: 52% versus 35% at 6 months, and 28% versus 4% at 13 months. These results confirm that radiation therapy may be safely delivered to very aged patients with advanced NSCLC at not merely palliative doses, both to achieve better local control and to give likely survival benefits. Adequate pretreatment evaluation should be always performed to exclude any comorbidity unfit to chest radiation and to individualize treatment to the single patient requirements. Because a large amount of literature data now concurs with the feasibility and safety of high-dose radiotherapy in the elderly, specifically designed, age-oriented trials are needed to settle definitively the issue of survival advantage from curative radiotherapy in these patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk