Effects of age on responses to treatment and survival of patients with multiple myeloma.
The elderly patient with malignancy is often considered a poor risk for treatment. To assess the effect of age on the treatment of one such disease, multiple myeloma (a disease with increased incidence in the elderly), a study was made of 280 patients treated with 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU), cyclophosphamide and prednisone on a Southeastern Cancer Study Group protocol. Initial response rates after six months of treatment were equivalent for the older compared with the younger age groups, with a slightly longer remission duration for those over 70. Likewise, survival was equivalent for the older patients. This was not the result of selection of older patients with less advanced disease, since the proportion with both good and poor risk factors are not significantly different in the various age groups. Moreover, for patients with each of the prognostic factors, older patients responded at least as well as younger patients. There were no significant differences among the age groups in gastrointestinal, skin, hair, or hematologic toxicity, although there was a slightly higher incidence of mild granulocyte and platelet toxicity in patients over 60. These findings are in contrast to the widely held belief that older patients cannot tolerate chemotherapy. On the contrary, they suggest that the elderly patient with myeloma may be expected to respond and survive, without excessive toxicity, at least as well as a younger counterpart with similar prognostic factors.
Cohen, HJ; Silberman, HR; Forman, W; Bartolucci, A; Liu, C
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