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AIMS: Most patients with advanced gastroesophageal cancer are elderly, but current standard regimens have emerged from trials predominantly involving patients with a median age <65 years. The aim of this study was to assess the factors influencing survival outcome for an elderly gastroesophageal cancer non-trial population. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We reviewed the case notes of all patients in our centre over the age of 65 years who received palliative chemotherapy for gastroesophageal cancer over a period of 3.5 years. Patients were classified as having received standard, non-standard combination or single-agent chemotherapy. After an initial univariate analysis, a multivariate analysis of the most significant prognostic factors was carried out. RESULTS: In total, 120 patients were suitable for analysis. The median overall survival for patients receiving standard chemotherapy was 8.1 months, non-standard combination 8.3 months and single-agent fluoropyrimidines 3.9 months. Poor prognosis was predicted by two independent factors: poor performance status (hazard ratio 2.402; 95% confidence interval 1.53-3.77, P<0.001) and the presence of cancer symptoms (hazard ratio 2.235; 95% confidence interval 1.32-3.79, P=0.003). CONCLUSIONS: An assessment of the performance status and the level of symptoms is vital in this vulnerable group of patients. Prospective randomised trials to assess the benefit of chemotherapy in elderly patients with gastroesophageal cancer are required.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol)

Publication Date





107 - 113


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Esophageal Neoplasms, Esophagogastric Junction, Female, Humans, Male, Neoplasm Staging, Palliative Care, Stomach Neoplasms, Survival Rate, Treatment Outcome