Hematopoietic growth factors in the older cancer patient.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Current opinion in hematology, Volume 8, Issue 3, p.170-87 (2001)


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Colony-Stimulating Factors, Hematopoiesis, Humans, Neoplasms


Aging is associated with a progressive decline in the functional reserve of multiple organ systems, which may lead to enhanced susceptibility to stress such as that caused by cancer chemotherapy. Myelodepression is the most common and the most commonly fatal complication of antineoplastic drug therapy and may represent a serious hindrance to the management of cancer in older individuals. This is already a common and pervasive problem and promises to become more so. Currently 60% of all neoplasms occur in persons aged 65 years and older, and this percentage is expected to increase as the population ages. This well-known phenomenon, sometimes referred to as squaring or the age pyramid, is caused by the combination of an increasing life expectancy and a decreasing birth rate. This article explores the use of hematopoietic growth factors in the older cancer patient after reviewing the influence of age on hemopoiesis and chemotherapy-related complications. The issue is examined in terms of effectiveness and cost. An outline of the assessment of the older cancer patient is provided at the end of the chapter as a frame of reference for clinical decisions.