The choice of the appropriate treatment strategy for elderly cancer patients may be a difficult challenge. Radiation therapy is commonly offered to these patients, but treatment duration may represent a limiting factor, as many patients cannot tolerate a conventional course of radiotherapy (RT) due to age-related medical or logistic problems. Hypofractionated RT may represent a very convenient choice, but it entails an increased risk of late toxicity occurrence. We made a literature review to define the possible role of hypofractionated RT for elderly cancer patients. As expected, we found out that short irradiation schedules are more commonly employed for treatments with palliative aims but a more widespread use of these regimes is still controversial. The lack of prospective trials tailored for these patients makes even more difficult to tailor the choice of treatment on standardised treatment guidelines. Nevertheless our review highlights that for several tumour types RT can be scheduled conveniently and effectively in order to achieve local disease control and/or symptom relief with the least discomfort and treatment-related morbidity for elderly patients. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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