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J Clin Oncol. 2007 Dec 10;25(35):5570-7.

Lung cancer in elderly patients: an analysis of the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results database.

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Emory Winship Cancer Institute, 1365 Clifton Rd, Ste C-5090, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.



To study the burden and outcome of lung cancer in the elderly, particularly for patients aged 80 years and older.


The national Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database was analyzed for lung cancer outcomes during the period 1988 to 2003. A comparison was carried out between patients with lung cancer 80 years and older, 70 to 79 years, and younger than 70 years for demographics; stage distribution; 5-year relative survival; and survival based on histology, sex, race, stage, and treatment. The temporal trends in survival during the years 1988 to 1997 and 1998 to 2003 were also analyzed.


Of 316,682 patients eligible for the analysis, 45,912 (14%) were 80 years or older (ie, very elderly); 103,963 (33%) were 70 to 79 years; and 166,807 (53%) were younger than 70 years. The distribution by stage and histology was comparable for all the three groups. Overall survival rate at 5 years was lower in the very elderly (7.4% v 12.3% v 15.5%; P < .0001) across sex, histologic subtypes, stages, and racial categories. Patients aged 80 years or older were less likely to receive local therapy (no surgery or radiation) than younger patients (47% v 28% and 19% for the age subgroups >/= 80 years, 70 to 79 years, and < 70 years, respectively). Overall outcomes for patients who underwent surgical therapy or radiation were comparable across the three age groups. In general, survival outcomes for the subgroup aged 70 to 79 years were similar to those of the subgroup aged 80 years and older who received single modality local therapy.


Patients 80 years or older account for 14% (70 years or older accounted for 47%) of all lung cancers, are less likely to be subjected to surgery or radiation, and have inferior outcomes when compared with younger patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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