Considerations Regarding the Administration of Systemic Therapy for Elderly Patients With Ovarian Cancer
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To improve the benefit and tolerability of cancer treatment, we must develop new geriatric-specific trials, better assessment tools, and encourage enrollment of older patients in clinical trials. Age is a strong predictor of survival in ovarian cancer and often influences the treatment plan. Elderly patients, broadly defined as older than age 65 years, are commonly not offered participation in clinical research or provided with substandard chemotherapy or surgical options. Because first-line, platinum-based chemotherapy with cytoreductive surgery is a potentially curative modality, all standard treatment options should be explored (intravenous, neoadjuvant, and/or intraperitoneal chemotherapy). However, one must balance the specific needs of the older patient and be aware of the increased risk of side effects. To be mindful and respectful, the oncologist should clearly define the goals (palliative vs. curative) and specific risks of treatment to patients and their families. As the field of geriatric oncology evolves and prospective trials tailored to older women with ovarian cancer are developed, specific guidelines will ultimately assist in these difficult decisions.