The number of elderly patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is expected to increase with the growing geriatric population. The aim of this study is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of standard chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy in elderly patients with SCLC.Methods:
In this retrospective study, we analyzed the data of 126 patients with SCLC diagnosed between 1996 and 2005 at our hospital, and compared the outcome of younger patients less than 70 years and elderly patients 70 years or older who were treated with etoposide and cisplatin (EP regimen) and cyclophosphamide, adriamycin and vincristine (CAV regimen). Patients with limited disease SCLC received thoracic radiotherapy (RT) following chemotherapy.Results:
Overall response rates (complete and partial response) were not significantly different between patients less than 70 years and patients 70 years or older (69% vs 65%, P = 0.591). The median survival time was 13 months for patients less than 70 years compared with 12 months for patients 70 years or older (P = 0.263), with 2- and 5-year survival rates of 37.8% and 8.2% vs 26.2% and 3.6%, respectively. Progression-free survival of patients 70 years or older was similar to that of patients less than 70 years (P = 0.445). Grade 3 and 4 hematological toxicities were more frequent among the elderly group (leukopenia, 48% vs 31%, P = 0.049; neutropenia, 52% vs 32%, P = 0.028; thrombocytopenia, 38% vs 21%, P = 0.047).Conclusion:
In spite of having more grade 3 and 4 hematological toxicity, elderly SCLC patients 70 years or older can benefit from the EP regimen and the CAV regimen with or without thoracic RT. Further investigations are needed to focus on ways to decrease toxicity, especially in the elderly.