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Age is not a key factor in cancer survival, but clinical trials exclude older patients
Date:11/6/2008

Age is not an independent factor in cancer survival rates and should not influence decisions about how to treat older patients, according to a study in the November issue of IJCP, the Independent Journal of Clinical Practice.

A team of hospital and University-based researchers from Barcelona, Spain, carried out a detailed study of more than 200 patients diagnosed with cancer.

"We found that there were a number of factors that influence survival rates including physical quality of life and how far the cancer had spread but age was not one of them" says lead researcher Dr Eva Domingo from Hospital Vall d'Hebron.

"Despite this fact, and the challenges that clinicians face from an ageing population, there has been little research into how to treat older cancer patients, who often have complex medical needs because of other health issues.

"They have been systematically excluded from clinical trials for cancer treatments. Although 60 per cent of cancers occur in patients over 65, their participation in clinical trials does not exceed 25 per cent.

"This has made it difficult to predict how older patients will tolerate and respond to the latest cancer treatments and has provided an obstacle to making evidence-based clinical decisions."

Dr Domingo and her colleagues teamed up with researchers from the University of Barcelona to look at 224 patients diagnosed with cancerous tumours.

The patients ranged from 32 to 92 years of age and three-quarters of them were male. Thirty-nine per cent of the patients were under 65 and 61 per cent were 65 or over.

The most common tumours were respiratory (43 per cent) and gastrointestinal (29 per cent). 42 per cent of the patients had a localised tumour.

Just under two-thirds of the patients (62 per cent) died during the one-year follow-up period.

The data from each patient, which included body mass index and quality of life
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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