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Older Colon Cancer Patients Less Likely to Get Chemo
Date:3/16/2010

y to experience the return of their cancer.

To gain insight into the age differential, Kahn's team analyzed data concerning 675 stage 3 colon cancer patients. All had undergone surgery after having been diagnosed between 2003 and 2005. Just over 200 of the patients were over 75.

The authors reviewed both patient surveys and medical records covering a period of three months before diagnosis, and up to 15 months after that.

Kahn and her team found that, overall, three-quarters of the patients received chemotherapy following surgery.

However, when breaking it down by age they noted that while 87 percent of patients under the age of 75 underwent chemotherapy, that figure dropped to just 50 percent among patients over the age of 75.

And despite the fact that older patients who did receive chemotherapy were less likely to have additional disease than their peers who did not get chemo, the older group was more likely to receive lower than the standard recommended dosage for their chemotherapy regimen.

The age bias was also apparent when looking at the length of chemotherapy treatment. While just 25 percent of younger patients had discontinued their treatment by the 150-day mark, that figure rose to 40 percent among those over the age of 65.

Patients over the age of 75 were more likely to experience negative side effects early into their chemotherapy. However, those side effects, which manifested well into the chemotherapy process, actually occurred less frequently among patients 75 and older than among younger patients.

The researchers did find significant evidence of adverse side effects overall. They observed that 24 percent of the patients experienced at least one negative side effect by the end of the study period, and that side effects were twice as likely to occur among those who received chemotherapy as among those who had surgery alone.

However, the authors concluded th
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