Loren K. Mell, MD, Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
Arno J. Mundt, MD, Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
Radiation therapy (RT) is commonly used in the treatment of older cancer patients. RT may be used as definitive therapy for benign or malignant tumours, as adjuvant therapy with surgery and/or chemotherapy, as palliative therapy when cure is no longer possible, and as alternative to surgery in patients with multiple comorbidities. However, RT is often not given to older patients who might benefit from it, due to biases, misapprehensions about potential toxicity, and social factors particular to this patient population. The preponderance of data suggest that RT is well tolerated in older adults and treatment decisions should be based on prognostic factors irrespective of age. Emerging RT technologies may particularly benefit aged patients by reducing potential toxicities, shortening treatment times, and improving tumour control.
Key words: age, radiation therapy, toxicity, cancer, procedures.