Radiation therapy in cancer patients 80 years of age and older Academic Article Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Neoplasms
  • Patient Selection
  • Research Subjects


  • There is a paucity of clinical data regarding radiation therapy in elderly patients. This is a retrospective study of all patients aged 80 years and older who underwent treatment with external beam irradiation at a single site. There were a total of 183 patients treated with 226 courses of therapy. The mean age was 84 years (range: 80-98 years). Fifty-eight percent of the patients were male. The treatment was deemed palliative in 51% and curative in 49%. The primary cancer diagnoses were: prostate 36, lung 28, breast 25, head and neck 23, gastrointestinal 21, hematologic 12, gynecologic 11, skin 11, genitourinary 9, unknown primary 6, central nervous system 1. The patients were able to complete the prescribed therapy in 173 of 226 courses (77%). Treatment breaks during the radiation courses were required in 81 (36%) of the courses. Radiation therapy can be safely administered to an elderly population with both curative and palliative intent with the expectation of completion in more than 80% of patients. The reasons for inability to complete therapy as prescribed are multifactorial, but careful patient selection and attention to comorbidity may optimize outcome. Further research is needed to better define these parameters.

publication date

  • December 2000



  • Academic Article


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/00000421-200010000-00019

PubMed ID

  • 11039517

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 526

end page

  • 30


  • 23


  • 5