1. Department of Internal Medicine, Kangnam Sacred-Heart Hospital, Hallym University Medical Center, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea
2. Department of Surgery, Kangnam Sacred-Heart Hospital, Hallym University Medical Center, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea
Gastric cancer (GC) is one of the most frequent malignant diseases in the elderly. Systemic chemotherapy showed an improvement of quality of life and survival benefit compared to supportive care alone in patients with advanced GC. Because comorbidities or age-related changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics may lead to higher toxicity, however, many oncologists hesitate to recommend elderly patients to receive chemotherapy.
Available data suggest that elderly patients with GC are able to tolerate and benefit from systemic chemotherapy to the same extent as younger patients. The age alone should not be the only criteria to preclude effective chemotherapy. However, proper patient selection is extremely important to deliver effective treatment safely. A comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) is a useful method to assess life expectancy and risk of morbidity in older patients and to guide providing optimal treatment. Treatment should be personalized based on the nature of the disease, the life expectancy, the risk of complication, and the patient's preference. Combination chemotherapy can be considered for older patients with metastatic GC who are classified as non-frail patients by CGA. For frail or vulnerable patients, however, monotherapy or only symptomatic treatment may be desirable. Targeted agents seem to be promising treatment options for elderly patients with GC considering their better efficacy and less toxicity.
Keywords: Gastric cancer, Chemotherapy, Elderly, Review