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Semin Oncol. 2003 Dec;30(6 Suppl 19):58-62.

The treatment of elderly patients with high-grade gliomas.

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  • 1Medical Oncology Department, Azienda Ospedale-Universit√†, Padova, Italy.

Abstract

Elderly patients with cancer are frequently excluded from cancer therapy trials, treated suboptimally, or not treated at all because of the widely held belief that elderly patients do not tolerate chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy (RT) as well as younger patients. Excluding elderly patients from conventional treatment, chemotherapy in particular, is often based on ad hoc decisions rather than on sound scientific data. Malignant gliomas are the most common primary brain tumors in adults, and the age-adjusted incidence of high-grade gliomas has increased over recent years, especially in the elderly. However, few investigators focus on the treatment of high-grade gliomas in the elderly. Data from retrospective studies and meta-analyses suggest that elderly patients with high-grade gliomas have a poorer outcome than younger patients, possibly because of the presence of comorbidity, resistance to cancer therapy, genetic aberrations, different histology, neurodegeneration, or age discrimination. The optimal treatment of elderly patients with high-grade gliomas has not been determined. Surgical debulking and postoperative RT are associated with a significant increase in survival among elderly patients who are in good clinical condition. A recent report has shown that treatment with temozolomide (Temodar [US], Temodal [international]; Schering-Plough Corporation, Kenilworth, NJ) plus RT provides a significant survival benefit compared with RT alone and a significantly improved time to progression compared with RT plus standard chemotherapy (lomustine, procarbazine, and vincristine). Further, temozolomide was well tolerated in the elderly patient population and was less toxic than standard chemotherapy. Therefore, it could be recommended that a full course of RT be followed by adjuvant temozolomide in elderly patients with good prognostic factors. Further, temozolomide alone could be considered as a treatment option for elderly patients with glioblastoma with poorer performance status and for patients who cannot tolerate RT. Results from larger prospective trials will determine the optimal role of chemotherapy, particularly temozolomide, in elderly patients with malignant gliomas.

PMID:
14765388
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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