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Journal of Cancer Epidemiology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 708936, 9 pages
Research Article

Uptake and Tolerance of Chemotherapy in Elderly Patients with Small Cell Lung Cancer and Impact on Survival

1School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 1C9
2Princess Noorah Oncology Centre, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
3Cancer Care, Alberta Health Services, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5J 3H1
4Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 1Z2

Received 8 August 2012; Revised 5 October 2012; Accepted 26 October 2012

Academic Editor: Frank Buntinx

Copyright © 2012 Stacey Fisher et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The treatment of elderly cancer patients is complicated by many factors. We sought to assess the uptake and tolerance of chemotherapy among patients 75 years and older diagnosed with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) in years 2004–2008 in Alberta, Canada, and assess their survival. All patients who met the above criteria and had an oncologist-consult were included. Data were obtained from the Alberta Cancer Registry and chart review. A total of 171 patients were included in the study, 117 (68%) of whom began chemotherapy. Of those, 52% completed all cycles, 66% did not have any dose reductions, and 31% completed all cycles at the recommended dose. The risk of death for patients who did not complete all cycles of chemotherapy was 2.72 (95% CI: 1.52–4.87) and for those who completed all cycles but with a reduced dose was 1.02 (95% CI: 0.57–1.82) relative to those who completed chemotherapy at full dose after adjusting for several demographic/clinical factors. Our results suggest that a significant proportion of elderly patients are able to tolerate chemotherapy and receive a survival benefit from it while those who experience toxicity may receive a survival benefit from a reduction in chemotherapy dose as opposed to stopping treatment.