Treating advanced lung cancer in older Veterans with comorbid conditions and frailty

Theodore Thomas, Bindiya Patel, Joshua Mitchell, Alison Whitmer, Eric Knoche, Pankaj Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advanced lung cancer is a deadly malignancy that is a common cause of death among Veterans. Significant advancements in lung cancer therapeutics have been made over the past decade and survival outcomes have improved. The Veteran population is older, has more medical comorbidities and frailty compared to the general population. These factors must be accounted for when evaluating patients for treatment and selecting treatment options. This article explores the impact of these important issues in the management of advanced lung cancer. Recent clinical trials leading to the approval of modern therapies will be outlined and treatment outcomes specific to older patients discussed. The impact of key comorbidities that are common in Veterans and their impact on lung cancer treatment will be reviewed. There is no gold standard frailty index for assessment of frailty in patients with advanced lung cancer and the ability to predict tolerability and benefit from systemic therapies. Currently available systemic therapies are associated with higher risk of adverse events and lower potential for clinically meaningful improvement in outcomes. Future research needs to focus on designing better frailty indices and developing novel therapies that are safer and more effective therapies for frail patients, who constitute a considerable proportion of individuals diagnosed with lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-361
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Oncology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Frailty
  • Lung Cancer
  • Older Adults


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