In elderly patients with rectal cancer, the application of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) is usually determined by the clinical findings because no data on tolerability are available. The present multicenter study identified 447 rectal cancer patients aged ≥ 70 years. Of these, 42 patients (9%) underwent nCRT. If selected by the clinical findings, nCRT is safe and well tolerated and leads to favorable surgical outcomes even in older age groups. Thus, the elderly should not be excluded from nCRT exclusively because of age.Introduction:
In studies of colorectal cancer, the elderly have been frequently underrepresented because comorbid conditions and functional status often lead to study exclusion. For elderly patients with an indication for neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT), physicians usually decide using clinical factors whether nCRT should be offered. The aim of the present retrospective study was to assess the tolerability of nCRT with capecitabine and the surgical outcomes in patients aged ≥ 70 years with locally advanced rectal cancer.Patients and Methods:
Data from 1372 rectal cancer patients diagnosed from 2002 to 2012 at 4 Dutch hospitals were used. Patients aged ≥ 70 years were included if they had received nCRT, and their data were analyzed for treatment deviations, postoperative complications, mortality, disease-free survival (DFS), and overall survival (OS). The data were stratified into 3 age groups (ie, 70–74, 75–79, and ≥ 80 years).Results:
We identified 447 patients aged ≥ 70 years. Of these patients, 42 had received nCRT, and 37 (88%) had completed nCRT. Radiation dermatitis, fatigue, and diarrhea were reported in 62%, 57%, and 43% of the 42 patients, respectively. Of the 42 patients, 40 (95%) underwent surgery, 1 patient refused resection, and 1 patient died during nCRT of severe mucositis due to dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency. The postoperative complication rate was 30%, and the 30-day mortality rate was 0%. A pathologic complete response was found in 7.5%. The 2- and 5-year DFS and OS rates were 58.5% and 40.7% and 81.0% and 58.2%, respectively.Conclusion:
The results of the present multicenter study have shown that if selected on clinical factors, nCRT with capecitabine is safe and well tolerated in elderly patients. No negative effect on surgical outcome was measured, and the beneficial effect (pathologic complete response, DFS, and OS) seemed comparable to that for younger age groups. We believe that elderly patients should not be excluded from nCRT on the basis of age only.