Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2005 Jan;4(5):325-31.5-Fluorouracil-based chemotherapy for advanced colorectal cancer in elderly patients: a north central cancer treatment group study.D'Andre S1, Sargent DJ, Cha SS, Buroker TR, Kugler JW, Goldberg RM, O'Connell MJ, Poon MA., Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2005, 2005 Jan 20
Although 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy is commonly used in patients with advanced colorectal cancer (CRC), little data exist on the tolerability and benefit of therapy in elderly patients. To compare toxicity, dose intensity, response rate, time to tumor progression, and overall survival for older and younger patients, we conducted a pooled analysis of 1748 patients, divided into 4 quartile-based age groups, from 4 North Central Cancer Treatment Group trials testing 5-FU with or without leucovorin for advanced CRC. Patients aged > 65 years had modestly higher rates of severe toxicity (grade >/= 3) overall (53% vs. 46%) and higher rates of diarrhea (21% vs. 16%), stomatitis (17% vs. 13%), and infection (4% vs. 2%). Toxicity rates were similar between patients aged 66-70 years and patients aged > 70 years. The response rate did not differ by age group (2-sided; P = 0.90); it was significantly lower for patients with higher performance status scores (30% for score of 0/1; 17% for 2/3; 2-sided; P = 0.001). Performance status, not age, was predictive of time to tumor progression and overall survival. The older patients with CRC treated with 5-FU have modestly higher rates of severe toxicity, mainly diarrhea and stomatitis. Supportive measures to control diarrhea and stomatitis may be particularly important in elderly patients. Age alone should not be used to determine whether older patients are treated, because performance status is predictive of dose intensity, response rate, time to tumor progression, and overall survival.