Background. The Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) has completed six major randomized trials in advanced ovarian carcinoma over the 15-year period between 1976 and 1990. This large database of 2123 patients provides a well-studied patient population with which to examine the importance of age as a prognostic factor.
Methods. The 2123 patients studied in the six GOG trials were analyzed as a group to determine important prognostic factors. Further analyses were then conducted to examine outcome by decade of life from younger than 40 years old to 70 years old and older and to evaluate the interaction of age with other significant prognostic variables.
Results. Three major prognostic factors were identified as exerting an influence on patient outcome in the overall patient population: age, volume of residual disease, and performance status. With regard to the effect of age, patients older than 69 years of age exhibited significantly poorer survival than those younger, even after correction for stage, residual disease, and performance status. This was not altered by variations in drugs, doses, and schedules; but there was no evidence that older patients tolerated intensive schedules less well than younger patients.
Conclusions. Two practical conclusions result from this analysis. First, there is no evidence that modification of the drugs and schedules that make up the regimens used can overcome the adverse effect of older age. Second, age does not adversely affect the dose intensity that can be achieved; hence, age in itself is not reason to withhold or attenuate intensive chemotherapy, particularly in light of the fact that older patients have a poorer prognosis.