Characteristics of lung cancer in elderly patients.
In order to assist in the definition of the natural history of lung cancer in the elderly population, a number of biological characteristics were studied, retrospectively, by comparing previously abstracted data from a cancer registry for three cohorts of patients: young (ages 40 to 50, n = 364), middle-aged (ages 51 to 69, n = 822), and elderly (ages 70 and above, n = 209). Compared to the younger cohort, the elderly cohort demonstrated more presenting symptoms of dyspnea, fewer symptoms of chest pain but a similar frequency of weight loss as a presenting sign. The elderly cohort contained more chronic, comorbid diseases but demonstrated more localized cancer and less metastatic disease compared to the younger cohorts. More than 80% of both groups did not undergo surgical resection. We conclude that elderly patients may be a relevant subgroup of lung cancer patients who must be included in studies of new strategies for disease detection, treatment, and management, and the identification of biological characteristics that could further define this high-risk subset of cancer patients.
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