Although many randomized clinical trials have shown a benefit of chemotherapy for patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), the trials have compared mostly different chemotherapy regimens, rather than chemotherapy with best supportive care. Information from the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) notes that some of the trials included chest radiation or prophylactic cranial irradiation, and many excluded elderly patients.
Now, though, a retrospective analysis, believed to be the first such large-scale assessment of chemotherapy use among such patients, looked at the benefit of chemotherapy on survival of elderly patients with SCLC in community settings.
In the study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (2013;8:1272-1281), the authors—Laura Caprario, MD, MS; David M. Kent, MD, MS; and Gary M. Strauss, MD, MPH—concluded that chemotherapy is associated with an improvement in median survival of more than eight months among elderly patients with SCLC, even in those over age 80.
The data included information on 10,428 patients 65 years and older who were diagnosed with SCLC between 1992 and 2001. Approximately 67 percent received chemotherapy, most of whom (42%) received etoposide with carboplatin or cisplatin with or without other agents.