BACKGROUND. The objective of this study was to study the influence of age and comorbidity on receiving radiotherapy (RT) in primary treatment of cancer. METHODS. In a population-based setting, the authors calculated the proportion of irradiated patients within 6 months after they received a diagnosis of lung, rectal, breast, or prostate cancer or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 33,369 patients) according to age and comorbidity between 1995 and 2002. Logistic regression analysis was used to adjust for age, comorbidity, gender, and stage. RESULTS. Patients with localized nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) ages 65 years to ≥80 years or with comorbid conditions received RT alone significantly more often compared with younger patients (ages 65-79 years: odds ratio [OR], 3.4; age ≥80: OR, 12.0) and patients without comorbidities (1 comorbid condition: OR, 2.1; ≥2 comorbid conditions: OR, 2.4). This also applied to patients with nonlocalized NSCLC ages 65 years to 79 years compared with younger patients (OR, 1.4). RT was administered significantly less often to elderly patients with resected rectal cancers (ages 65-79 years: OR, 0.7; age ≥80 years: OR, 0.4), patients age ≥80 years with breast cancer after undergoing conserving surgery (OR, 0.1), and patients age ≥80 years with clinical T1-T3,N0,M0 prostate cancer age (OR, 0.1) compared with younger patients. Patients with breast cancer who underwent breast-conserving surgery received RT significantly less often in the presence of comorbidities (1 comorbid condition: OR, 0.6; ≥2 comorbid conditions: OR, 0.4). Older patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma received only RT as treatment significantly more often compared with younger patients (OR, 3.4). CONCLUSIONS. Comorbidity and age did have influence over whether patients received RT, although, for most tumor types, age appeared to be a stronger predicting factor. Under treatment was observed among patients with breast cancer and rectal cancer.

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Keywords Comorbidity, Elderly, Population-based, Radiotherapy, Referral rates
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Journal Cancer
Vulto, J.C.M, Lemmens, V.E.P.P, Louwman, M.W.J, Janssen-Heijnen, M.L.G, Poortmans, P.H.P, Lybeert, M.L.M, & Coebergh, J.W.W. (2006). The influence of age and comorbidity on receiving radiotherapy as part of primary treatment for cancer in South Netherlands, 1995 to 2002. Cancer, 106(12), 2734–2742. doi:10.1002/cncr.21934