Treatment of Patients with Advanced Gastroesophageal Adenocarcinoma: Does Age Matter?
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Gastroesophageal cancer is the fourth most frequent malignant disease and, despite significant advances in chemotherapy, the prognosis of unresectable or recurrent gastroesophageal cancer is poor. The majority of patients, nearly two-thirds, are over the age of 65 years at diagnosis. Elderly patients are a heterogeneous population and aging occurs at different rates in different individuals. The chronological age of a patient does not necessarily reflect the physiological age. However, elderly patients are more likely to have a number of concomitant diseases and impaired organ function, which should be considered when making treatment decisions. Therefore, treatment in older adults requires particular caution, and physiologic age rather than chronologic age should be considered when deciding for or against systemic therapy. Older patients are generally underrepresented in clinical trials and many elderly patients do not receive effective combination therapies due to concerns with tolerability. Age itself is not a negative predictive factor and treatment should not be omitted just on the basis of chronological age. Older patients who fulfill the standard inclusion criteria of clinical trials seem to have a similar advantage from palliative chemotherapy for gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma as younger patients; however, large prospective trials in the elderly population are needed to guide clinicians in making evidence-based decisions.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
No external funding was used in the preparation of this manuscript.
Conflict of interest
Sylvie Lorenzen has received honoraria from Amgen, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Merck, MSD, Lilly, Roche Pharma, and Servier, and has served as an advisor for Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Merck, MSD, Lilly, Roche Pharma, and Sanofi Aventis. Ralf-Dieter Hofheinz has received honoraria from Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Merck, MSD, Lilly, Roche Pharma, Medac, Servier, and Sanofi, and has served as an advisor for Merck, Lilly, Roche Pharma, Sanofi Aventis, Amgen, and Bristol-Myers-Squibb. His institution has received research funding from Sanofi Aventis, Merck, and Amgen.
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