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Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2013:227-35. doi: 10.1200/EdBook_AM.2013.33.227.

Treatment and trials: ovarian cancer in older women.

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From the Lyon 1 University and Department of Medical Oncology, Lyon Sud Hospital, Lyon, France; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY; Stephenson Cancer Center, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK.


Ovarian cancer (OC) is a disease of elderly women. The disease spreads insidiously and presents at an advanced stage at initial diagnosis for most patients. Several groups reported at least a two-fold increased risk of death in women older than 65. Various theories have been proposed to explain this survival disparity in older women, including: (1) more aggressive cancer with advanced age, (2) inherent resistance to chemotherapy, (3) individual patient factors such as multiple concurrent medical problems, and (4) physician and health-care biases toward the elderly that lead to inadequate surgery, less than optimal chemotherapy, and poor enrollment in clinical trials. As a result of this high clinical variability, oncologists need to be more familiar with the comprehensive geriatric assessment to better identify vulnerable patients at higher risk of complications. Several geriatric tools are available to assess the physiologic and functional capacities of older patients and to better individualize treatment. This paper gives an overview of the management of elderly patients with OC, in particular the integration of chemotherapy, surgery, and geriatric assessment to improve treatment tolerance and survival outcomes.

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