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J Clin Oncol. 2011 Sep 1;29(25):3457-65. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.34.7625. Epub 2011 Aug 1.

Predicting chemotherapy toxicity in older adults with cancer: a prospective multicenter study.

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City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center and Beckman Research Institute, Duarte, CA 91010, USA.



Older adults are vulnerable to chemotherapy toxicity; however, there are limited data to identify those at risk. The goals of this study are to identify risk factors for chemotherapy toxicity in older adults and develop a risk stratification schema for chemotherapy toxicity.


Patients age ≥ 65 years with cancer from seven institutions completed a prechemotherapy assessment that captured sociodemographics, tumor/treatment variables, laboratory test results, and geriatric assessment variables (function, comorbidity, cognition, psychological state, social activity/support, and nutritional status). Patients were followed through the chemotherapy course to capture grade 3 (severe), grade 4 (life-threatening or disabling), and grade 5 (death) as defined by the National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events.


In total, 500 patients with a mean age of 73 years (range, 65 to 91 years) with stage I to IV lung (29%), GI (27%), gynecologic (17%), breast (11%), genitourinary (10%), or other (6%) cancer joined this prospective study. Grade 3 to 5 toxicity occurred in 53% of the patients (39% grade 3, 12% grade 4, 2% grade 5). A predictive model for grade 3 to 5 toxicity was developed that consisted of geriatric assessment variables, laboratory test values, and patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics. A scoring system in which the median risk score was 7 (range, 0 to 19) and risk stratification schema (risk score: percent incidence of grade 3 to 5 toxicity) identified older adults at low (0 to 5 points; 30%), intermediate (6 to 9 points; 52%), or high risk (10 to 19 points; 83%) of chemotherapy toxicity (P < .001).


A risk stratification schema can establish the risk of chemotherapy toxicity in older adults. Geriatric assessment variables independently predicted the risk of toxicity.

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