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Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2010 Mar-Apr;50(2):185-91. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2009.03.008. Epub 2009 May 1.

Safety and feasibility of radiotherapy treatment in elderly non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.

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Division of Radiotherapy, Arcispedale S. Anna Universitary Hospital, Corso Giovecca 203, I-44100 Ferrara, Italy.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and activity of radiotherapy (RT) treatment in elderly patients with locally advanced lung cancer. From January 2002 to December 2007, 51 consecutive patients (43 men and 8 women) aged > or = 65 received RT for locally advanced lung cancer, 22 with radical intent and 16 in adjuvant setting. Thirty-six patients received chemotherapy. Variables considered were age, co-morbidities, evaluated according to the adult co-morbidity evaluation index (ACE-27), surgery vs. no surgery, radiation dose and chemotherapy. The median age was 74.7 years (range 65-91). Of the patients, 15.7% had no co-morbidity, 41.2% mild, 25.5% moderate, and 17.6% had severe co-morbidities. Sixteen subjects (31.4%) underwent surgery. All patients completed the planned radiation schedule, while chemotherapy was reduced in 16 patients. At a median follow-up of 22 months, the 2- and 3-year overall survival rates were 46.5% and 35.4%, respectively. Patients with no or mild co-morbidities (p < 0.0001) and a good performance status (p < 0.0001) had a better survival. The actuarial progression-free survival at 2 and 3 years was 41.4% and 38.2%, respectively. Acute lung toxicity rates were different between patients with different ACE-27 indexes, whereas late toxicity was not influenced. In conclusion, in elderly patients, the compliance with RT is good and the rate of toxicity is acceptable. Patients with no or mild co-morbidities have a significantly better survival. The increasing severity of co-morbidities may sufficiently shorten the remaining life expectancy, cancel the gains obtained by RT and increase the acute lung toxicity. Further prospective trials are needed to confirm these results.

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