Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) in Octogenarians in Clinical Practice

Anticancer Res. 2016 Oct;36(10):5397-5402. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.11115.


Background/aim: Globally, an increasing proportion of cancer patients are aged >65 years and many are aged >70 years. Treatment of the elderly with lung cancer has, therefore, become an important issue. We performed a retrospective study of our patients to demonstrate how octogenarians with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are treated in real-life clinical practice.

Patients and methods: This was a retrospective observational study of all elderly (≥80 years) patients with NSCLC referred to the Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergy, Karolinska Hospital, Sweden, 2003-2010, and followed until June, 2016.

Results: In total, 452 patients, 216 (47.8%) men and 236 (52.2%) women, were included. The mean and median age was 83 years; 28 (6.2%) were aged 90 years or more. Current or former smokers constituted 91.1%, with men having smoked more (p<0.001). There was no difference in performance status (PS) between genders with PS 0-1 in 45.4%, PS 2 in 25.6% and PS3-4 in 29%. About a third each was diagnosed in stages 1-II, III and IV. Adenocarcinoma was most common (45.6%), 18.1% had squamous cell carcinoma, while histological diagnosis was unavailable in 23.2%. Best supportive care (BSC) was given only to 209 patients (46.2%). Potentially curative therapy was administered to 16.5% of men and 20.3% of the women with surgery performed in 35 patients (7.8%) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) in 48 patients (10.6%). Chemotherapy was given to 51 patients (11.2%) and palliative radiotherapy to 77 (17.0%). Second-line chemotherapy was given in 4% and third-line in 1.5%. Only one patient received fourth-line. Male patients who received chemotherapy survived a mean of 281 days and for female patients it was 332 days (not significant). Median overall survival (OS) was 115 days in patients receiving BSC and 362 days in patients given any therapy. Patients who underwent surgery for stage I-II had a median OS of 5.6 years compared to 3.5 years for patients given SBRT.

Conclusion: Treatment of NSCLC patients 80 years and older with any modality is feasible with a good PS. Survival is fairly good with surgery or SBRT.

Keywords: Non-small cell lung cancer; clinical practice; octogenarians.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / physiopathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies