Cancer in elderly


Geriatric oncologists have two main challenges: selecting patients for specific treatments and the delicate balance of prolonging their survival while maintaining independence and quality of life. Elderly patients are underrepresented in cancer clinical trials, and it is hard to have evidence-based recommendations in everyday clinical practice. So EORTC aims to develop, conduct, coordinate and stimulate elderly-specific clinical research for those older patients often excluded from clinical trials. Our research focuses on helping develop new biological and targeted agents that minimize the toxicity of common chemotherapy without affecting its efficacy.

EORTC’s research in this field includes identifying appropriate endpoints and designs for clinical studies in elderly patients and describing potential biomarkers to define the biological age of elderly patients more accurately, for better-tailored cancer treatment.

Main Achievements

Helped establish a standardised Elderly Minimal Dataset (MinDS) to harmonise the collection of data relevant to the elderly and enable future cross-study and practice comparisons. All EORTC clinical trials now use the Elderly Minimal Dataset, in particular, G8 screening for patients who are more than 70 years old.

Hans Wildiers, Chair of the EORTC Cancer in the Elderly Task Force from 2009 until 2015, was appointed to the European Medicines Agency’s geriatric expert group in 2010. The group is working on a standard geriatric assessment to include in all future registration trials in Europe. Its recommendations are publically available at the EMA website.

Work in this field also resulted in developing an elderly-specific quality of life assessment tool, the QLQ-ELD14 scale. This quality of life scale is already integrated in some studies of the elderly.

EORTC is also actively developing a specific methodology for clinical trials in the elderly: how to define the “age” of a cancer patient: the value of biological markers of ageing.

Endpoints and trial design in geriatric oncology research: a joint EORTC-Alliance-SIOG position paper.

Management of elderly patients with NSCLC; updated expert’s opinion paper: EORTC Elderly Task Force, Lung Cancer Group and International Society for Geriatric Oncology.

Research Group

Group documents
  • Chair

    Lissandra Dal Lago

    Institut Jules Bordet

    Brussels, Belgium

  • Secretary

    Andrea Luciani

    Ospedale San Paolo

    Ospedale, Italy

  • Treasurer

    Antonella Brunello

    Istituto Oncologico Veneto IRCCS

    Padova, Italy