Systemic therapy of non-colorectal gastrointestinal malignancies in the elderly
In the coming years life expectancy is expected to increase and with this the percentage of the population above age 65 will grow. Patients above 65 make up more than two thirds of those currently diagnosed with gastrointestinal malignancies. Available evidence based medicine does not focus on the average patient, above the age 70, encountered in every day practice. Most guidelines and clinical trials are not designed to take into account the special considerations needed when treating the elderly such as functional status, comorbidities, polypharmacy, life expectancy, and social support. The majority of available data is based on retrospective reviews or subset analyses of larger studies where the elderly represent a fraction of the studied population. This review focuses on the toxicities and tolerability of current standard therapies for non-colorectal gastrointestinal malignancies, including gastroesophageal, pancreatic, bile duct and hepatocellular cancers in the elderly. With careful patient selection and geriatric assessment the elderly can safely benefit from standard therapies offered to younger patients.