Adjuvant treatment for elderly patients with colon cancer. An observational study

Anticancer Res. 2008 Jul-Aug;28(4C):2513-8.


Background: Adjuvant 5-fluoruracil-based chemotherapy significantly reduces mortality in patients with stage II-III colon cancer, but is less prescribed with rising age. In this study we were interested in the pattern of adjuvant treatment and possible effects on survival among elderly patients.

Patients and methods: From January to December 2004, 63 questionnaires on the management of stage II-III resected colon cancer patients aged over 70 years, collected from 10 Italian Centres, were retrospectively examined. Determinants of receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy and their relation to survival were considered.

Results: The proportion of elderly patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy was 79.4%, distinct of age, gender, educational level and comorbidities. Grade 3-4 toxicities were the following: haematological in 4 (8.5.%) patients, mucositis in 4 (8.5%), diarrhoea in 2 (4.2%) and nausea in 1 (2.1%). The disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) at two years were 79.9% and 95.6%, respectively. Due to the paucity of events, the impact of prognostic factors (patient's age and comorbidity, tumour stage and grade) on DFS and OS could not be assessed.

Conclusion: An increasing proportion of elderly patients with colon cancer may be treated with a tolerability and OS similar to those observed in the younger population. Development of age-based guidelines and increased awareness of both physicians and patients through education is important to prevent undertreatment of those elderly patients who are eligible for chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Retrospective Studies