The value of combined-modality therapy in elderly patients with stage III nonsmall cell lung cancer




The objective of this study was to assess the value of combined-modality therapy in elderly patients by comparing the differences in outcome between patients who received radiotherapy (RT) alone and patients who received RT plus chemotherapy for stage III nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC).


The North Central Cancer Treatment Group performed 2 recent Phase III trials for stage III NSCLC. The first trial, NCCTG 90-24-51, included 3 arms: once-daily RT (QDRT) alone, twice-daily RT (BIDRT) alone, and concurrent chemotherapy plus BIDRT. The second trial, NCCTG 94-24-52, included 2 arms and compared concurrent chemotherapy with either QDRT or BIDRT. The chemotherapy arms of both trials included etoposide and cisplatin administered concurrently with RT. Only the patients aged ≥65 years (elderly) who participated in those trials were included in this analysis.


Of the 166 elderly patients who were included in this analysis, 37 patients received RT alone, and 129 patients received concurrent chemotherapy plus RT. The median and 5-year survival rates were 10.5 months and 5.4% for the RT alone group compared with 13.7 months and 14.7% for the RT plus chemotherapy group (log-rank P = .05). Patients who received RT plus chemotherapy experienced significantly greater severe toxicity (grade ≥3) compared with patients who received RT alone (89.9% vs 32.4%; P < 0.01).


Elderly patients who participated in these trials appeared to gain a survival advantage from RT and chemotherapy compared with RT alone. As is the case with younger patients, this benefit came at the cost of additional toxicity. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.