Treatment and outcomes for glioblastoma in elderly compared with non-elderly patients: a population-based study

E.R. Morgan, A. Norman, K. Laing, M.D. Seal



Elderly patients make up a large percentage of the individuals newly diagnosed with glioblastoma (gbm), but they face particular challenges in tolerating standard therapy, and compared with younger patients, they experience significantly shorter survival. We set out to compare clinical characteristics, treatment patterns, and outcomes in a non-elderly group (<65 years) and an elderly group (≥65 years) of patients diagnosed with gbm.


This retrospective population-based study used a province-wide cancer registry to identify patients with a new diagnosis of gbm within a 6-year period (2006–2012). Of the 138 patients identified, 56 (40.6%) were 65 years of age or older. Demographic characteristics, treatment patterns, and overall survival (os) in the elderly and non-elderly groups were compared. Predictors of os were determined using multivariate analysis.


Elderly patients were more likely to present with a poor performance status (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group ≥ 2), to undergo biopsy without resection, and to receive whole-brain or hypofractionated radiotherapy. Compared with non-elderly patients, the elderly patients were less likely to receive adjuvant temozolomide. Survival time was significantly shorter in the elderly than in the non-elderly patients (7.2 months vs. 11.2 months). In multivariate analysis, surgical resection,  hypofractionated radiotherapy (compared with whole-brain or conventional radiotherapy), and chemotherapy were predictive of os in older patients. Among elderly patients receiving radiation, survival was improved with the use of combined therapy compared with the use of radiation only (11.3 months vs. 4.6 months).


Overall survival was shorter for elderly patients with gbm than for non-elderly patients; the elderly patients were also less likely to receive intensive surgical or adjuvant therapy. Our population-based analysis demonstrated improved os with surgical resection, hypofractionated radiotherapy, and temozolomide, and supports the results of recent clinical trials demonstrating a benefit for combination chemoradiotherapy in older patients. 


Glioblastoma; elderly patients; survival; chemoradiotherapy; toxicity; temozolomide; radiotherapy

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)