Current Trends in Systemic Therapies in Elderly Patients With Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

  • Anna GriffithEmail author
  • Hanna Sanoff
Systemic Therapies in Colorectal Cancer (SM Kazmi, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Systemic Therapies in Colorectal Cancer


Purpose of Review

The incidence of colorectal cancer increases with age and the population is aging, making treatment of elderly patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) an increasingly common part of oncology practice. We review the literature regarding systemic treatment of colorectal cancer in the elderly population.

Recent Findings

Most of the data for toxicity and efficacy of systemic therapies for mCRC in older patients comes from subgroup analysis of pooled phase II and III trials of both chemotherapy and targeted agents. These studies suggest that combination chemotherapy and targeted therapy are well-tolerated in fit elderly patients with slightly increased risk of toxicity.


Assessment of functional status independent of age can help differentiate which patients are candidates for combination chemotherapy, single-agent chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or supportive care. Fit, elderly patients should be treated as younger patients. Dose-reduced doublet therapy with dose escalation as tolerated is a safe and effective way to treat less-fit elderly patients. Most targeted therapies appear to be safe in the elderly population without significant concerns for increased toxicity.


Metastatic colorectal cancer Elderly Targeted therapy Systemic therapy Comprehensive geriatric assessment 


Compliance With Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNC Hospitals, Hematology/OncologyChapel HillUSA

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