Clinical outcomes of elderly patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation (nCRT) for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) were similar enough to outcomes of younger patients that doctors may want to reconsider using age alone for determining eligibility for nCRT and surgery, investigators reported online in the Annals of Oncology.

Dr. D. M. Jiang of the University of Ottawa (Ont.) and associates collected data from 1,172 patients with LARC who received nCRT and curative intent surgery, 25% (n = 295) of whom were 70 years old or older, from five major Canadian cancer centers between 2005 and 2012. When compared with younger patients, elderly patients were less likely to receive adjuvant chemotherapy (ACT) (60% vs. 79%; P less than .0001), oxaliplatin-based ACT (12% vs. 31%; P less than .0001), less likely to complete nCT (76% vs. 86%; P less than .001), and more likely to be anemic at initiation of nCRT (42% vs. 30%; P = .0004).

The investigators found that increasing age was not predictive of disease-free survival (hazard ratio, 1.00; 95% confidence interval, 0.99-1.02; P = .49) or cancer-specific survival (HR, 1.002; 95% CI, 0.98-1.02; P = .88) among LARC patients; however, advanced age correlated with an inferior overall survival (HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.00-1.03; P = .04).

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