Adjuvant treatment of colorectal cancer in the elderly: Where do we come from and where are we going?

maria di bartolomeo, filippo pietrantonio, pamela biondani, filippo de braud


Objective: Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly reported cancer in the world and about 50% of patients are diagnosed over the age of 70 years. The authors discuss age-related changes in organ function, comorbidities and frailty in the elderly, and their impact on chemotherapy toxicity.
Methods: The authors review data from observational studies and subgroup analyses of randomized clinical trials on adjuvant chemotherapy in elderly colorectal cancer patients.
Results: Several large population-based studies suggest that adjuvant chemotherapy is offered less frequently to elderly patients, although in recent years the prescription patterns tended to significantly increase. In fact, data from retrospective analyses of randomized trials indicate that elderly stage III colorectal cancer patients may get similar clinical advantage from adjuvant treatment with fluoropyrimidines, although major comorbidities may substantially limit life expectancy and minimize the survival benefits. The use of oxaliplatin-based regimens needs to take into account the individual risk/benefit profile due to lack of unequivocal evidence of positive literature data.
Conclusions: Adjuvant chemotherapy of colorectal cancer should be investigated by prospective trials specifically designed for the elderly. Fit elderly patients should be offered standard adjuvant treatments, while modified schedule, attenuated doses or even treatment omission can be offered to more frail patients.

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Journal of Solid Tumors

ISSN 1925-4067(Print)   ISSN 1925-4075(Online)

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