Lodovico Balducci, MD | Authors

Bone Complications of Cancer Treatment in the Elderly

July 15, 2010

Osteopenia and osteoporosis are increasingly common in cancer patients, owing to the aging of the population and to new forms of cancer treatment. Androgen and estrogen deprivation, as well as some forms of cytotoxic chemotherapy, may lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis. Patients at risk for osteoporosis include those treated with aromatase inhibitors and with androgen deprivation for more than 1 year. In addition, all patients 65 years of age and older are at risk of osteoporosis when treated with cytotoxic agents, and so should be screened for bone loss. Several treatments have been effective in the prevention and management of osteoporosis. In patients at risk for this complication, it is recommended to obtain a bone density evaluation and to start appropriate treatment. This may include calcium and vitamin D supplementation for mild forms of osteopenia, and bisphosphonate therapy or denosumab (Prolia) for more advanced osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Pharmacology of Antineoplastic Medications in Older Cancer Patients

January 02, 2009

In this review, we will examine the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of antineoplastic agents after a brief introduction to geriatric medicine, as a framework of reference for clinical decisions. We will conclude with the outline of a research agenda specific for older cancer patients.

Cancer-Related Anemia: Special Considerations in the Elderly

January 01, 2007

Anemia raises special concerns in older cancer patients. This review addresses the prevalence, causes, and mechanisms of anemia in older individuals, the complications of anemia in this population (including its impact on cancer treatment), and the appropriate management of anemia in the elderly.

Management of Chemotherapy-Induced Neutropenia in the Older Cancer Patient

December 01, 2006

The chemotherapy of most cancers may be beneficial to older individuals as long as patients are selected on the basis of their life expectancy and functional reserve, conditions that may interfere with the tolerance of chemotherapy are corrected, and adequate doses of chemotherapy are administered. Prevention of neutropenia-related infection may both improve the outcome of cancer and reduce the risk of toxic deaths in older patients. The prophylactic use of myelopoietic growth factors is recommended in individuals aged 65 and older when the risk of chemotherapy-induced neutropenic infection is at least 10% or higher. In this article we explore the management of neutropenia and neutropenic infections in older cancer patients, as well as review the causes and the risk of this complication.

Management of Cancer in the Elderly

February 01, 2006

With the aging of the Western population, cancer in the older person is becoming increasingly common. After considering the relatively brief history of geriatric oncology, this article explores the causes and clinical implications of the association between cancer and aging. Age is a risk factor for cancer due to the duration of carcinogenesis, the vulnerability of aging tissues to environmental carcinogens, and other bodily changes that favor the development and the growth of cancer. Age may also influence cancer biology: Some tumors become more aggressive (ovarian cancer) and others, more indolent (breast cancer) with aging. Aging implies a reduced life expectancy and limited tolerance to stress. A comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) indicates which patients are more likely to benefit from cytotoxic treatment. Some physiologic changes (including reduced glomerular filtration rate, increased susceptibility to myelotoxicity, mucositis, and cardiac and neurotoxicity) are common in persons aged 65 years and older. The administration of chemotherapy to older cancer patients involves adjustment of the dose to renal function, prophylactic use of myelopoietic growth factors, maintenance of hemoglobin levels around 12 g/dL, and proper drug selection. Age is not a contraindication to cancer treatment: With appropriate caution, older individuals may benefit from cytotoxic chemotherapy to the same extent as the youngest patients.

Myelosuppression and Its Consequences in Elderly Patients With Cancer

November 01, 2003

Cancer is a disease of the elderly, and its incidence and mortalityincrease with age. The number of persons with cancer is expected todouble between 2000 and 2050, from 1.3 million to 2.6 million, withthe elderly accounting for most of this increase. Studies have shownthat otherwise-healthy older patients treated with chemotherapy of similarintensity obtain benefits comparable to those obtained by youngerpatients. However, chemotherapy-induced neutropenia and its complicationsare more likely in older patients; they are also more often hospitalizedbecause of life-threatening infectious complications. Furthermore,most neutropenic episodes in elderly patients occur in the earlycycles of chemotherapy. To minimize the occurrence of chemotherapyinducedneutropenia, older patients are often treated with less-aggressivechemotherapy and with dose reductions and delays, which maycompromise treatment outcome. The proactive management ofmyelosuppression is therefore essential in elderly patients. Research todetermine the predictors for neutropenia has found that age itself is asignificant risk factor. The benefit of treating elderly patients withcolony-stimulating factors is well established, with their use beginningin the first cycle of chemotherapy being crucial for minimizing neutropeniaand its complications and facilitating the delivery of full-dosechemotherapy. Such prophylaxis should be routinely considered in elderlypatients with cancer treated with myelosuppressive chemotherapy.

Commentary (Balducci): Ovarian Cancer in Elderly Women

August 01, 2003

With the population aging,cancer in older persons isbecoming an increasinglycommon problem.[1] The benefit ofantineoplastic treatment may be diminishedand the risk enhanced byaging, due to a progressive reductionin life expectancy and in the functionalreserve of multiple organ systems.[2] To establish the most suitablecourse of action in individual cases,the practitioner needs to be able toaddress the following questions: Is thecancer going to compromise the survivalor the quality of life of the patient?Is the patient able to tolerate thepotential risk of cancer treatment?

Aging and Cancer

December 01, 2000

The world’s population is aging. Older age is associated with an increase in the incidence of cancer, especially cancer of the breast, lung, prostate, and colon. The management of older patients with cancer is biased by the

A Cost Analysis of Hematopoietic Colony-Stimulating Factors

November 01, 1995

The administration of hematopoietic colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) to reduce the severity and duration of neutropenia associated with systemic chemotherapy has become widespread, although the appropriate use of