Tolerance of Radical Radiotherapy Among Elderly Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Head and Neck Cancer

Kirthi Koushik AS, et al. Indian J Surg Oncol 2020.


Head and neck cancers usually occur in the elderly age group and about half of the cases occur at the age > 60 years with majority detected in an advanced stage with increased morbidity and decreasing compliance to therapy. Since there are limited data available for the adequate treatment of elderly head and neck cancer patients, we proposed a study to analyze tolerance and response based on age, site, modality of treatment received, and implication of nutrition vs weight loss during treatment. Fifty-five patients were enrolled in this study, which was conducted between November 2015 and April 2017, and those who met the eligibility criteria were evaluated with a detailed history and physical examination, and biochemical, pathological, and radiological investigations. Patients were staged based on TNM staging and treated as per the standard guidelines. Patients were assessed with the weekly routine blood investigation, weight loss, and toxicity. The response was assessed after 6 weeks and documented as per RECIST criteria. 52/55 (94.5%) patients completed the treatment, and 48/55 (92.3%) had a complete response at 6 weeks (p value 0.000) with a mean treatment duration of 46.67 days and mean weight loss of 5.44 kg with 55.4% having GR-II mucositis, 40% having GRIII mucositis at the time of completion of treatment. Sixty-eight percent having GRII and 38.2% having GR I dermatitis and 80% had moderate pain. Subgroup analysis was done based on age, site, and treatment modality. Patients were also assessed for nutrition vs weight loss. We concluded that elderly patients tolerate and respond well to radical treatment with acceptable toxicities; hence, age should not be a barrier to decide treatment.