Insight into the treatment of cancer in older patients: developments in the last decade

Cancer Treat Rev. 2006 Jun;32(4):277-88. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2006.03.005. Epub 2006 May 15.


In the last decades there has been an increased interest in the treatment of elderly cancer patients and a change in attitude of both clinicians and their patients has occurred. Drugs are now available that might be considered "elderly-friendly" and the enormous advances in surgical procedures and supportive treatments over the recent years have enabled adverse effects to be minimized. A Geriatric Assessment is increasingly used as a tool to define those patients who are more suitable for aggressive chemotherapy or, on the contrary, palliative treatment. For almost all cancers, older patients are better treated today than they were in the past, even though we are still far from optimal management. Despite the perceived barriers to including elderly patients in clinical trials, there are few data to support excluding them. We must not permit increased age in cancer patients to continue to be an important and independent risk factor for receiving inadequate care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colonic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Neoplasms / surgery
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Palliative Care
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy


  • Antineoplastic Agents