Radiotherapy for glioblastoma in the elderly

N Engl J Med. 2007 Apr 12;356(15):1527-35. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa065901.


Background: There is no community standard for the treatment of glioblastoma in patients 70 years of age or older. We conducted a randomized trial that compared radiotherapy and supportive care with supportive care alone in such patients.

Methods: Patients 70 years of age or older with a newly diagnosed anaplastic astrocytoma or glioblastoma and a Karnofsky performance score of 70 or higher were randomly assigned to receive supportive care only or supportive care plus radiotherapy (focal radiation in daily fractions of 1.8 Gy given 5 days per week, for a total dose of 50 Gy). The primary end point was overall survival; secondary end points were progression-free survival, tolerance of radiotherapy, health-related quality of life, and cognition.

Results: We randomly assigned 85 patients from 10 centers to receive either radiotherapy and supportive care or supportive care alone. The trial was discontinued at the first interim analysis, which showed that with a preset boundary of efficacy, radiotherapy and supportive care were superior to supportive care alone. A final analysis was carried out for the 81 patients with glioblastoma (median age, 73 years; range, 70 to 85). At a median follow-up of 21 weeks, the median survival for the 39 patients who received radiotherapy plus supportive care was 29.1 weeks, as compared with 16.9 weeks for the 42 patients who received supportive care alone. The hazard ratio for death in the radiotherapy group was 0.47 (95% confidence interval, 0.29 to 0.76; P=0.002). There were no severe adverse events related to radiotherapy. The results of quality-of-life and cognitive evaluations over time did not differ significantly between the treatment groups.

Conclusions: Radiotherapy results in a modest improvement in survival, without reducing the quality of life or cognition, in elderly patients with glioblastoma. ( number, NCT00430911 [].).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Astrocytoma / mortality
  • Astrocytoma / radiotherapy
  • Astrocytoma / therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cognition / radiation effects
  • Female
  • Glioblastoma / mortality
  • Glioblastoma / radiotherapy*
  • Glioblastoma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Survival Analysis

Associated data