Chemotherapy in elderly patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer

Rajwanth R. Veluswamy, Benjamin Levy, Juan P. Wisnivesky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Purpose of review: Using chemotherapy in elderly nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients is often challenging given concerns of treatment-related toxicity. However, data have demonstrated that chemotherapy can lead to improved survival in this age group. In this review, we summarize existing data and discuss the role of chemotherapy in elderly patients with localized, locally advanced, and metastatic NSCLC. Recent findings: Clear evidence-based guidelines for chemotherapy management in elderly patients is lacking given the limited prospective data available. However, there are more clinical trials investigating optimal chemotherapy agents and dosing schedules specific to the elderly. Comprehensive geriatric assessment-directed interventions are also being prospectively investigated to improve treatment selection for elderly patients. Summary: Chronological age should not be a limiting factor for chemotherapy use in elderly NSCLC patients. Several studies have demonstrated similar survival benefits than in younger patients when chemotherapy is given as adjuvant treatment for localized disease; part of definitive treatment with radiation in locally advanced disease; and palliative treatment for advanced NSCLC, however, at the cost of greater toxicity. Tolerability of chemotherapy in this heterogeneous group can be difficult to predict. Therefore, therapeutic decisions should be individualized based on performance status. Comprehensive geriatric assessment should be used to supplement performance status measures to minimize both under and overtreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-343
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine
Volume22
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • advanced disease
  • chemotherapy
  • elderly
  • nonsmall cell lung cancer
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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