University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Last Modified: May 18, 1998
Lung cancer is expected to claim the lives of more than 160,000 Americans this year -- many over the age of 65. Survival rates are improving, especially when the cancer is detected early. Treatment is often difficult, however, and is often palliative, directed only toward relieving symptoms as the disease progresses, rather than actively treated the tumor.
Researchers concluded a multicenter randomized trial of 164 patients aged 70 or more, with stage IIIB or IV (unsuitable for curative radiotherapy) Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. This study demonstrates that active treatment with vinorelbine (VNR) chemotherapy, in combination with best supportive care in relieving patients' symptoms, allowed them to tolerate the chemotherapy. This substantially prolonged survival in elderly patients with the disease. Twenty-seven percent of patients treated with VNR and best supportive care survived for at least one year, versus only 5% of those receiving best supportive care alone. The researchers conclude that elderly patients with lung cancer can tolerate active chemotherapy when given proper supportive care, and they should be offered this treatment option for management of advanced lung cancer.