Randomized trials show chemotherapy is effective for older patients with stage III colon cancer. However, these patients are less likely to receive the treatment in community based settings across America because of concerns about possible side effects.
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Assoication showed that older patients appear to tolerate these treatments just as well as younger patients but also receive less intense therapy and shorter courses of the medication
Researchers studied 675 stage III colon cancer patients, focusing on those 75 and older. They found that even after taking account of the burden of illness or the extra conditions that patients have beyond their colon cancer, older patients tolerated the chemotherapy just as well as younger patients.
The study also showed however that half of the patients over 75 received this treatment, compared to 87% of younger patients. Older patients didn't receive the treatment as long as younger patients and were often given weaker doses.
At Conemaugh Health System, Dr. Paul Woolley, a medical oncologist, said a patient's medical condition , not their age, is the primary consideration when it comes to determining whether he or she can tolerate chemotherapy.
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