Dr Dotan on the Use of Geriatric Assessments to Identify Unique Challenges in GI Cancer

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Efrat Dotan, MD, discusses the use of geriatric function assessments in elderly patients with gastroesophageal cancer.

Efrat Dotan, MD, chief, Gastrointestinal (GI) Medical Oncology, associate professor, Department of Hematology/Oncology, associate director, Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Training Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, discusses the utility of geriatric function assessment when identifying geriatric challenges and predicting outcomes in elderly patients with gastroesophageal cancer.

Geriatric assessments can help oncologists determine whether older patients with GI cancers are fit for anti-cancer therapy, Dotan begins. Accordingly, Dotan and colleagues conducted a study to compare patient-identified challenges through the use of geriatric assessments vs those identified through physician evaluations in routine clinical practice. The study was also designed to identify unique unmet needs in the elderly population and explore how abnormalities identified in geriatric assessments correlated with treatment outcomes, Dotan details. A total of 82 patients aged 65 years of age or older with any-stage gastroesophageal cancer were included in the study.

Result presented at the 2024 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium showed that clinical characteristics of older patients with gastroesophageal cancer were not found to be predictive of abnormalities in geriatric assessments, Dotan reports. Such findings suggest a significant disparity between the findings of geriatric assessments and those identified by physicians during routine clinical practice, she explains.Although physicians were adept at recognizing medical comorbidities, they often overlooked critical psychosocial, cognitive, and functional issues affecting patients, Dotan continues. Importantly, the study elucidated a clear correlation between these unidentified abnormalities and adverse treatment outcomes, including increased rates of treatment-related toxicities, hospitalizations, and other complications, she notes.

These findings underscore the importance of adopting a holistic approach to patient care, particularly for elderly cancer patients, through the use of comprehensive geriatric assessments, Dotan emphasizes. Such an approach can help healthcare providers better understand and address the diverse challenges faced by these patients, thereby ensuring comprehensive care delivery and optimized treatment outcomes, Dotan concludes.

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