Toxicity of initial chemotherapy in older patients with lung cancers. Academic Article uri icon



  • OBJECTIVES: Despite the growing number of elderly patientswith lung cancers,we lack adequate information about how best to treat them. A phase III trial demonstrated a survival benefit of doublet chemotherapy in elderly patients with lung cancers compared to single agents at the cost of increased toxicity. We undertook this study to identify and describe chemotherapyassociated toxicity patterns among elderly patients treated for lung cancers. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We reviewed records of patients age 70 or older with metastatic lung cancers who received initial chemotherapy at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center during 2008 and 2009. RESULTS: We identified 70 patients: 28 (40%) completed at least 4 cycles of chemotherapy without dose reduction but 31 (44%) required hospitalization for toxicity. Baseline albumin <3.5 g/dL and anemiawere associatedwith grade 3–5 chemotherapy-associated toxicity. Also, an increase in platelets from cycle 1 to cycle 2 was associated with chemotherapy-associated toxicity. No other statistically significant associations between chemotherapy-associated toxicity and putative biologic and functional risk factors, including age and performance status, were identified. CONCLUSION: Patients deemed eligible for chemotherapy by their physicianswere just as likely to have severe chemotherapy-associated toxicity requiring hospitalization as to finish an initial course of therapy without any serious problems. An increase in platelet count from cycle 1 to cycle 2 was associated with increased toxicity. Additional research, such as exploration of inflammatory cytokines (PDGF, IL6, and IGF-1) to identify the mechanisms of chemotherapy tolerance and prospective evaluation and validation of existing metrics, is needed so that all patients can be appropriately risk stratified.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013



  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Lung Neoplasms


PubMed Central ID

  • PMC3601754

Scopus Document Identifier

  • 84872604291

PubMed ID

  • 23525607

Additional Document Info


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