Author | Robert E. Bristow, MD

Articles

Ovarian Cancer in Elderly Women

August 01, 2003

The incidence of ovarian carcinoma increases with advancing age,peaking during the 7th decade of life and remaining elevated until age80 years. Despite the high prevalence of ovarian cancer in the elderly,the management of these patients is often less aggressive than that oftheir younger counterparts. As a result, many elderly cancer patientsreceive inadequate treatment. However, data do not support the conceptthat age, per se, is a negative prognostic factor. In fact, the majority ofelderly patients are able to tolerate the standard of care for ovariancancer including initial surgical cytoreduction followed by platinumand taxane chemotherapy. Because functional status has not demonstrateda reliable correlation with either tumor stage or comorbidity,each patient’s comorbidities should be assessed independently. Forelderly patients with significant medical comorbidity, the extent ofsurgery and aggressiveness of chemotherapy should be tailored to theextent of disease, symptoms, overall health, and life goals. In addition,enhanced cooperation between geriatricians and oncologists may assistthe pretreatment assessment of elderly patients and improve treatmentguidelines in this population.