Being older than 70 should not stop patients from getting aggressive treatment of the most malignant form of brain cancer with radiation therapy, French researchers have reported.
Because the tumor, glioblastoma, typically kills half its victims within a year, doctors have been unsure whether it is even worthwhile to treat older patients.
A team led by Florence Keime-Guibert at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris found that 42 patients who simply received supportive care survived an average of 17 weeks, which is typical for younger patients as well. But 39 volunteers who also received radiation therapy typically lived an extra 12 weeks. This is a significant difference, although not as much as younger patients get with radiation treatment.
Both groups of patients reported a similar quality of life, an important factor in determining whether to undertake aggressive care.
The study was reported in the April 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.