Geriatric Assessments Reduce Side Effect Incidence in Older Adults With Cancer

February 09, 2022 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor

Regularly conducting geriatric assessments in older patients and using the information to guide their care reduces their risk of side effects by nearly 30%, researchers reported in study findings published in Lancet.

The researchers randomly assigned 718 patients 1:1 to receive the intervention (a tailored geriatric assessment summary and management recommendations) or usual care (no geriatric assessment). Patients’ oncologists used the assessment to adjust their treatment approaches, such as using single therapy instead of combinations, starting with lower doses, facilitating early referrals to supportive care (e.g., social workers, dieticians, rehabilitative therapy), and adjusting standing medications for comorbid conditions.

They found that only 51% of patients in the intervention group experienced one or more serious side effects (e.g., fatigue, nausea and vomiting, infection) compared to 71% who received usual care, and only 40% in the intervention group required dose reductions because of side effects compared to 60% in the usual care group. Additionally, only 12% of patients in the intervention group reported falls, compared to 21% in the control group.

“Geriatric assessment with management should be integrated into the clinical care of older patients with advanced cancer and aging-related conditions,” the researchers recommended.

Oncology nurses can conduct geriatric assessments as part of their care routine for older adults. On the Oncology Nursing Podcast Episode 72: Caring for Older Adults With Cancer, the experts recommended using the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ tool.


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