Efficacy of radiotherapy for malignant gliomas in elderly patients

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1998 Dec 1;42(5):977-80. doi: 10.1016/s0360-3016(98)00356-3.


Purpose: Age above 65 years is a strong negative prognostic factor for survival in patients with malignant gliomas (MG) treated with radiotherapy (RT) and its value has been questioned. We analyzed the effect of RT on the survival of elderly patients with malignant gliomas.

Methods and materials: We examined 85 consecutive elderly patients with a histological diagnosis of MG. Age ranged from 65 to 81 years (median 70 years). Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) was diagnosed in 64 patients (75.3%). Surgical treatment included needle biopsy in 32 patients (37.6%). Median postoperative Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) was 60 (range: 30-100). Survival probability was estimated using Kaplan-Meier method and compared with the log-rank test. Crude and adjusted hazard ratios (HR) were calculated using Cox's regression models.

Results: Median survival time for all patients was 18.1 weeks. In multivariate analysis, RT was the only independent prognostic variable for survival (HR: 9.1 [95% CI: 4.5-18.7]). Forty-two patients did not start RT mostly due to low KPS (<50). The median survival of the 43 patients who started RT was 45 weeks. In these patients, Cox multivariate analysis indicated that age was independently associated with prolonged survival (HR: 2.85 [95% CI 1.31-6.19]). Median survival of patients age 70 years and younger was 55 weeks compared with 34 weeks for patients older than 70 years.

Conclusions: The overall survival for elderly patients with MG is poor. RT seems to improve survival in patients up to 70 years, but in older patients treated with RT the survival is significantly shorter.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy
  • Glioblastoma / mortality
  • Glioma / mortality
  • Glioma / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Survival Analysis