Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Age is not a key factor in cancer survival, but clinical trials exclude older patients

Age is not an independent factor in cancer survival rates and should not influence decisions about how to treat older patients, according to a study in the November issue of IJCP, the Independent Journal of Clinical Practice.

A team of hospital and University-based researchers from Barcelona, Spain, carried out a detailed study of more than 200 patients diagnosed with cancer.

“We found that there were a number of factors that influence survival rates – including physical quality of life and how far the cancer had spread – but age was not one of them” says lead researcher Dr Eva Domingo from Hospital Vall d’Hebron.

“Despite this fact, and the challenges that clinicians face from an ageing population, there has been little research into how to treat older cancer patients, who often have complex medical needs because of other health issues.

“They have been systematically excluded from clinical trials for cancer treatments. Although 60 per cent of cancers occur in patients over 65, their participation in clinical trials does not exceed 25 per cent.

“This has made it difficult to predict how older patients will tolerate and respond to the latest cancer treatments and has provided an obstacle to making evidence-based clinical decisions.”

Dr Domingo and her colleagues teamed up with researchers from the University of Barcelona to look at 224 patients diagnosed with cancerous tumours.

The patients ranged from 32 to 92 years of age and three-quarters of them were male. Thirty-nine per cent of the patients were under 65 and 61 per cent were 65 or over.

The most common tumours were respiratory (43 per cent) and gastrointestinal (29 per cent). 42 per cent of the patients had a localised tumour.

Just under two-thirds of the patients (62 per cent) died during the one-year follow-up period.

The data from each patient, which included body mass index and quality of life scores as well as various clinical tests, was subjected to a detailed analysis.

This showed that there were four independent factors that played a significant role in predicting whether a patient survived. These were:

•Metastatic dissemination, which measures how widely the cancer has spread.
•The level of functional impairment the patient experienced, as measured by the Karnofsky Perfomance Status Scale.
•The patient’s physical quality of life, as measured by the eight criteria on the Short Form 36 questionnaire.

•Serum albumin levels, a major protein that is produced in the liver and is essential for maintaining pressure in the vascular system.

Patients had better survival rates if they had a good physical quality of life and fewer problems with functional impairment. High serum albumin levels were also important, as were a lack of metastatic dissemination.

“The patient’s age was not an independent factor that predicted how likely they were to survive cancer” stresses Dr Domingo. “Because of this, age, in itself, should not be used to limit diagnostic or therapeutic decisions.”

The number of older cancer patients is rising as the worldwide population ages. But not enough it being done to meet their needs, argue the authors.

“Consciously or unconsciously, age often becomes a decisive element when diagnostic or therapeutic strategies are designed” says Dr Domingo.

“Older people tend to have more complex health needs, such as other illnesses, and that is one of the reasons that has frequently been put forward for not treating their cancers aggressively. However our study found that comorbidity, like age, was much less significant than factors like physical quality of life.

“Other reasons given include the limited long-term benefits, compared with younger patients, and the lack of financial, logistical and social support.”

The authors hope that their research will reduce the focus that other clinicians put on age when they treat older patients with cancer.

“We would like to see less decisions taken on the basis of age and more research that explores the complex needs of older people, so that they can be treated more effectively and enjoy a better quality of life” concludes Dr Domingo.

Annette Whibley | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>