Undertreatment or overtreatment – how far from each other in geriatric oncology?


healthcare burden

How to Cite

Kocik, J. (2020). Undertreatment or overtreatment – how far from each other in geriatric oncology? . Wiedza Medyczna, 2(1), 18-25. https://doi.org/10.36553/wm.15


The mortality due to cancers of older patients, in age above 65 years of life, in comparison to younger is higher in majority of these diseases. It has been also reported that seniors are frequently denied the treatment according to current standards of therapy, thus suffer from undertreatment. There is solid evidence from controlled trials that older patients may tolerate pharmacological therapies in some cancers as well as young, providing they are under good supportive care. At the same time aggressive multimodal treatment may cause immediate or delayed side effects and exhaustion of reserves of the vital organs in elderly. This may cause a general deterioration, a decompensation of comorbidities, an evolution of geriatric syndromes and premature death, not directly caused by cancer. Such situation in aged cancer patients should be called the overtreatment. In diseases with better prognosis, with effective screening methods and large choice of treatment options like breast cancer, survival is getting better, although not in the eldest. The worse prognosis in old breast cancer patients may be caused to some extent by undertreatment. More fatal tumors like NSCLC await further optimization of cancer therapy towards better toxicity profile to avoid overtreatment.



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