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World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2015 Oct 15;7(10):204-20. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v7.i10.204.

Treatment of colorectal cancer in the elderly.

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Monica Millan, Aleidis Caro, Francesc Feliu, Jordi Escuder, Colorectal Surgery Unit, Department of Surgery, Joan XXIII University Hospital, 43005 Tarragona, Spain.


Colorectal cancer has a high incidence, and approximately 60% of colorectal cancer patients are older than 70, with this incidence likely increasing in the near future. Elderly patients (> 70-75 years of age) are a very heterogeneous group, ranging from the very fit to the very frail. Traditionally, these patients have often been under-treated and recruited less frequently to clinical trials than younger patients, and thus are under-represented in publications about cancer treatment. Recent studies suggest that fit elderly patients can be treated in the same way as their younger counterparts, but the treatment of frail patients with comorbidities is still a matter of controversy. Many factors should be taken into account, including fitness for treatment, the wishes of the patient and family, and quality of life. This review will focus on the existing evidence for surgical, oncologic, and palliative treatment in patients over 70 years old with colorectal cancer. Careful patient assessment is necessary in order to individualize treatment approach, and this should rely on a multidisciplinary process. More well-designed controlled trials are needed in this patient population.


Chemotherapy; Colorectal cancer; Elderly; Palliative care; Radiotherapy; Surgery

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