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Gerontology. 2003 Sep-Oct;49(5):324-7.

Favorable toxicity profile of raltitrexed in elderly patients treated for colorectal cancer: a case series.

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Department of Clinical Medicine, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.



Age-related physiological changes may lead to an increased toxicity of chemotherapy in the elderly, thus making tumor treatment difficult in this increasing subset of patients.


Since many trials claimed a favorable therapeutic index with raltitrexed, the aim of our preliminary study was to evaluate the anticancer activity and the toxic profile of this drug in the elderly.


Thirteen elderly patients with colorectal cancer, aged 75-90 years, were enrolled in a monochemotherapy treatment with raltitrexed. Due to their advanced age, the drug was administered with a 33% reduction of the dose.


One partial response, four disease stabilizations, and two disease progressions were observed in 7 patients with advanced colorectal cancer. The patients with response or disease stabilisation had a satisfactory time to progression. Four out of 6 patients treated in the adjuvant setting for Dukes' C colorectal cancer remain disease free at observation periods of 15+ to 29+ months. Toxicity was virtually absent in all patients.


The activity of monochemotherapy with raltitrexed appears to be appealing, above all because it is observed in the absence of toxicity. Though recent reports suggest some concern about severe complications of treatment with raltitrexed, administration of reduced doses of this drug seems to be a putative therapy for those patients who, because of their age, are highly susceptible to the adverse effects of chemotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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