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07.02.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 7/2018 Open Access

Supportive Care in Cancer 7/2018

Management and survival analysis of elderly patients with a cancer in the digestive system who refused to receive anticancer treatments

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 7/2018
Jun Wan, Shiping Xu, Yinqiao Wu, Benyan Wu, Dezhong Joshua Liao, Ningzhi Xu, Gangshi Wang


Treatment and management of cancers in elderly patients require some special considerations. A better understanding of how cancers progress in those elderly patients who have not received any anticancer treatments could better help us in treating these patients and in making end-of-life decisions. Over the past years, we had encountered 57 elderly patients, aged 75 to 94 years (87.6 on average), with a cancer in the digestive system, who refused to accept anticancer treatment but who did receive the best available supportive and palliative care. Clinicopathological data of these patients were analyzed. Of these 57 cases, 49 were at an advanced or late stage, while the remaining eight were at an early stage at the time of diagnosis. The median overall survival time of all the patients was 11 months, and almost the entire cohort manifested multiple-organ impairments. The average number of malfunctioning organs per patient was 3.68. After carefully predicting, and then preventing or managing complications, only 54.4% of the patients eventually died of multiple-organ functional failure. Nearly 18% of the single organ dysfunctions were finally well-controlled. Our data provide the first statistical information on the survival time and the direct cause of death of the elderly patients with a cancer in the digestive system not treated with chemotherapy or other direct anticancer interventions, but who did receive the best available supportive and palliative cares. During their struggle with cancer, elderly patients clearly could benefit from prophylactic interventions on organ dysfunction.

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