In fact, prior research indicates that, in recent years, as little as one-quarter of NSCLC patients over the age of 66 have gotten the same first-line standard of care as younger patients.
To learn more, between 2006 and 2009 Quoix' team recruited just over 450 NSCLC patients between the ages of 70 and 89. All of these patients were undergoing treatment at one of 61 different medical centers across France.
Half were placed on a dual-chemotherapy regimen involving the agents carboplatin and paclitaxel, which together comprise what doctors call "platinum-based doublet chemotherapy." The other half were placed on a single drug ("monotherapy") regimen involving either vinorelbine or gemcitabine.
Dual-regimens were spread across four weeks, while the single regimens were spaced over three weeks.
The researchers found that toxic side effects were indeed more common among those exposed to two chemotherapy agents at once. Yet over the course of 2.5 years of follow-up (on average), the team also found that survival rates were much higher among the dual-chemo group.
For example, elderly patients who were placed on the two-drug therapy survived more than 10 months on average, compared with just over 6 months for those getting the single therapy group.
What's more, nearly 45 percent of doublet patients survived to the one-year mark post-treatment, compared with about 25 percent of those in the single-chemo group.
The authors concluded that -- harsher toxic side-effects notwithstanding -- double-chemo treatment appears to afford elderly lung cancer appreciable and worthwhile benefits. They therefore called for a reconsideration of current protocols for lung cancer treatment among the elderly.
However, in an editorial, Dr. Karen L Reckamp, from the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., said that there have been too few clinical trials involving older men and women with
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