Advances have occurred in the management of digestive tract cancers, but it is not known how much they have benefited the elderly.
Dr Bouvier and colleagues from France conducted a study of time trends of digestive tract cancers among patients aged 80 years in 2 French populations.
The research team determined trends in treatment, stage at diagnosis and prognosis of digestive tract cancers.
|The relative survival rate for colon cancer in patients over 80 years is 41%|
|Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics|
The team studied time trends in 3 age classes and in 5 different 4-year time intervals.
A multivariate relative survival analysis was performed to estimate the independent effect of both age and period on prognosis.
The researchers found that the 5-year relative survival rates were 2% for esophageal cancer, and 12% for stomach cancer.
The 5-year relative survival rate for colon cancer was 41% and 37% for rectal cancer.
The team noted that the survival rates improved between the 1st and the 5th period for all cancer sites except for esophageal cancer.
This improvement remained significant after adjustment for age, sex, site and treatment.
The research team observed that improvement in survival rates was associated with an increase in the proportion of patients who underwent curative resection.
In addition, the team noted that very few patients received adjuvant chemotherapy.
The team also found that the use of adjuvant radiotherapy for rectal and esophageal cancers did not significantly increase over time.
Dr Bouvier's team concludes, “Except for esophageal cancers, substantial advances in the care of digestive tract cancers in the elderly have been achieved.”
“Surgery should not be restricted on the basis of age alone.”
“Further improvements can be made in particular to enhance adjuvant therapy whenever possible.”