Rectal cancer treatment and outcomes in elderly patients treated with curative intent

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Molecular and Clinical Oncology


The elderly population comprises a significant proportion of patients diagnosed with rectal cancer. However, there is a lack of evidence to guide treatment decisions in this group. Thus, this multicentre study compares the histopa-thology, treatment patterns and outcomes between the elderly and young populations with non-metastatic rectal cancer. The present study reported on the clinicopathological variables, treatment modalities and survival outcomes in 736 patients diagnosed with non-metastatic rectal cancer between 2006 and 2015. Patients were divided into the following two groups, <70 and ≥70 years of age, which were compared using Chi-square and survival outcome analysis using Kaplan-Meier. Elderly patients made up nearly half of the cohort and were less likely to undergo trimodality therapy or be discussed in a multidisciplinary meeting. Surgery in the elderly patients was associated with increased mortality. Elderly patients had worse cancer-specific survival (75 vs. 85%), which was particularly evident in stage III disease (hazard ratio, 2.1). Elderly patients in this subgroup treated with trimodality therapy had similar survival outcomes to younger patients. Elderly patients with locally advanced rectal cancer comprise a large proportion of the patient cohort. Consideration should be given for trimodality therapy in this group, taking into account biological age, especially in the context of increasing life expectancy and improvement in the management of age-related comorbidities.

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