The Role of Radiation Therapy in the Older Patient

Curr Oncol Rep. 2021 Jan 2;23(1):11. doi: 10.1007/s11912-020-01000-y.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Older patients represent a unique subgroup of the cancer patient population for which the role of radiation therapy (RT) requires special consideration. This review will discuss many of these considerations as well as various radiation treatment techniques in the context of a variety of disease sites.

RECENT FINDINGS: Several recent studies give insight into the management of older cancer patients considering their age, performance status, comorbid conditions, quality of life, genetics, cost, and individual goals. RT plays an evolving and pivotal role in providing optimal care for this population. Recent advances in RT technique allow for more precise treatment delivery and reduced toxicity. Studies evaluating the use of radiation therapy in breast, brain, lung, prostate, rectal, pancreatic, esophageal, and oligometastatic cancer are summarized and discussed in the context of treating the older patient population. Individual age, performance and functional status, comorbid conditions, and patients’ objectives and goals should all be considered when presenting treatment options for older patients and age alone should not disqualify patients from curative intent treatments. When possible, hypofractionated courses should be utilized as outcomes are often equivalent and toxicities are reduced. In many cases, RT may be preferable to other treatment options due to decreased toxicity profile and acceptable disease control.

PMID:33387104 | DOI:10.1007/s11912-020-01000-y