VP177 Older People With Cancer: To Treat Or Not To Treat With Chemotherapy?

Angela Boland, Gerlinde Pilkington, Janette Greenhalgh, Rumona Dickson

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    Older people with cancer are less likely to receive radical treatment for cancer. We conducted a series of systematic reviews to explore the effectiveness and tolerability of systemic anti-cancer therapy for older people with cancer. The reviews were conducted on behalf of the National Cancer Equality Initiative to establish an understanding of the current body of research and to enable the development of more personalized treatment protocols for elderly patients that take into account fitness and personal choice.

    We conducted six systematic reviews that considered the effectiveness and tolerability of treatment for older people with cancer (breast, colorectal, lung, renal cell, chronic myeloid leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). Four electronic databases were searched from 2010 to 2013. Data were extracted on a range of outcomes from published studies (randomised controlled trials, subgroup analyses, pooled analyses, cohort studies and retrospective studies).

    We found a large quantity of published research from a wide range of study types. We included a total of 490 studies (64 randomized controlled trials, 30 subgroup analyses, 24 pooled analyses, 255 cohort studies, and 117 retrospective studies).

    Most of the randomized controlled trials enrolled fitter and healthier patients than those seen in routine clinical practice. The evidence indicates that older patients with good performance status can, and do, respond well to chemotherapy, frequently achieving similar survival benefit to younger patients.

    We found no consistent definitions of ‘old’ or ‘elderly’ and these varied from 50 years to 85 years across studies.

    The study results demonstrate that comprehensive geriatric assessment has not been routinely conducted in clinical cancer studies and that readily available assessment tools were not used by study investigators.

    Age should not be a barrier to treatment for the older population. Research is needed to determine which treatment regimens offer the appropriate balance of clinical effect and likelihood of adverse events within older populations. Future randomized controlled trials could be designed to include either higher proportions of older people, or only older people.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)232-233
    Number of pages2
    JournalInternational Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care
    Issue numberS1
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2018


    • cancer
    • older people


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