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Health Serv Res. 1986 February; 20(6 Pt 2): 961–976.
PMCID: PMC1068916

Psychosocial consequences of cancer chemotherapy for elderly patients.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether elderly patients receiving cancer chemotherapy experience more emotional distress, difficulty with side effects, and disruption in activities than younger patients. A sample of 217 patients receiving initial chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer or lymphoma was interviewed several times over the first 6 months of treatment. Patients ranged in age from 19 to 83. Included in the interviews were questions on presence, duration, and severity of side effects; response of disease to treatment; and 0-10 ratings of emotional distress, difficulty, and life disruption due to chemotherapy. Information on drugs given, doses, and schedules was obtained from medical charts. In general, elderly patients reported no more difficulty with treatment or emotional distress than did younger patients. This general pattern held across disease types, with some exceptions. These results, combined with previously published studies on the physiological effects of chemotherapy in the elderly, indicate that aggressive treatment should not be withheld from older patients simply because of their age.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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  • Morrow GR. Prevalence and correlates of anticipatory nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1982 Apr;68(4):585–588. [PubMed]
  • Nesse RM, Carli T, Curtis GC, Kleinman PD. Pretreatment nausea in cancer chemotherapy: a conditioned response? Psychosom Med. 1980 Jan;42(1):33–36. [PubMed]

Articles from Health Services Research are provided here courtesy of Health Research & Educational Trust