Affiliation: Department of Medical Oncology, National Cancer Institute, Via Franco Gallini 2 - 33081 Aviano (PN) – Italy
Colorectal cancer is one of the major causes of cancer mortality in the elderly population (median age at diagnosis of 71 years) in Western Countries. Moreover patients with metastatic disease are often elderly with significant co- morbidities. Unfortunately, elderly patients are often untreated and under-represented in clinical trials, even if most clinical trials that have included this setting of population have shown similar survival rates and toxicities to younger patients.
Age itself should not be considered for candidacy to chemotherapy but it should be taken in consideration the great heterogeneity of co-morbidities present in the elderly population. Therefore, the best treatment strategy for elderly colorectal cancer patients has not yet been defined. Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment is recommended to evaluate the best strategy treatment and to reduce the adverse events. In fact, while fit elderly patients could receive the same therapeutic treatment as the younger counterpart, a palliative approach should be taken in consideration for frail elderly patients and for those with a short life expectancy.