Adjuvant radiotherapy on older and oldest elderly rectal cancer patients

F. Fiorica, F. Cartei, B. Carau, S. Berretta, D. Spartà, U. Tirelli, A. Santangelo, D. Maugeri, S. Luca, C. Leotta, R. Sorace, M. Berretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of radiotherapy in terms of feasibility and activity in the patients aged ≥75 with advanced rectal cancer. From January 2002 to December 2006, 41 consecutive patients (27 men and 14 women) aged ≥75 received radiotherapy for local advanced rectal cancer, 9 in a pre-operative and 22 in a post-operative setting. Sixteen patients received concomitant chemotherapy. Variables considered were age, co-morbidities, evaluated according to the adult co-morbidity evaluation index (ACE-27), surgery versus no surgery, and timing of radiotherapy. The median age was 80.5 years (range 75-90). A total of 19.5% of the patients had no co-morbidity, 48.8% mild, 17.1% moderate, and 14.6% had severe co-morbidities. Thirty-nine subjects (95.1%) were submitted to surgery. All patients but one completed the planned radiation schedule. At a median follow-up of 23.1 months, the 2- and 4-year overall survival rates were 71.8% and 61.6%, respectively. There was a better survival for patients with no or mild co-morbidities (p = 0.002) and a good performance status (p = 0.003). The cancer-free survival at 2 and 4 years was 78.9% and 26.4%, respectively. No difference in acute and late toxicity rates was found between patients with different ACE-27 indexes. We conclude that compliance with radiotherapy is good and rate of toxicity is acceptable in elderly patients. Patients with no or mild co-morbidities have a significantly better survival. Increasing severity of co-morbidity may sufficiently shorten remaining life expectancy to cancel gains with adjuvant radiotherapy. Further prospective trials are needed to confirm these results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-59
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


  • Co-morbidities with rectal cancer
  • Elderly patients
  • Radiotherapy of rectal cancer
  • Rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Health(social science)
  • Gerontology


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