Factors influencing treatment of elderly cancer patients

Share :
Published: 13 Feb 2011
Views: 5232
Prof Antonio Palumbo - University of Turin, Italy
Prof Antonio Palumbo talks about ecancer’s upcoming international meeting in Rome, March 18-20th 2010, which will address the treatment of patients over the age of 65 suffering from myeloma, lymphoma, myelodysplasia syndrome, or chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. One of the key issues will be the overtreatment of elderly patients and high level of toxicity that these patients endure as a result. Prof Palumbo discusses the importance of understanding how comorbitities affect patients’ ability to tolerate treatments.

2010 American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting 3rd - 7th December

Interview with Prof Antonio Palumbo - University of Turin, Italy

Factors influencing treatment of elderly cancer patients


AP        Antonio Palumbo

KS        Keith Stuart  



AP        We are going to have an international meeting in Rome basically focussed on treatment of patients over the age of 65 and also focussing not only on myeloma but also chronic lymphocytic leukaemia as well as the lymphoma and mild dysplastic syndrome.   The issue is that we have a growing population of elderly patients, especially over the age of 75, and there is a major need to find the right dose, the right scheme, for this patient population that currently is over-treated with too high a rate of toxicities and I think there is major work to do for this sub group of patients. 


KS        We’ve seen some examples of that with high dose Dexamethasone, for example, being overly toxic in the elderly.  How many people will be at the meeting?

Do you know?


AP        We think about 1,500 so it should be a big meeting covering basically all Europe and probably a few attendants outside Europe.


KS        Antonio, focussing on the elderly is a novel concept in our field, but what are the major themes of the meeting that you’re going to have that you hope to address?


AP        Well, the major issue will be to define what is today a biological age and if you want also the incidence of co-morbidities because, generally speaking, in the very elderly I think there are two issues to define: one, which is the right biological age and, second, which are the major co-morbidities which can make a given person of a given age much older – not because he’s older, but because he’s having some important co-morbidities. 


KS        Do you think perhaps there’s any difference in the biology of blood cancer as patients get older?  Will you explore that at the meeting?


AP        No.  We would mainly concern about the safety profile.  There are some data on differences in the behaviour of the cancer, but what we believe is making the major difference is the safety and the toxicities of those regimens.


KS        Well, we all look forward to it.  Thank you.


AP        Thank you.