Comprehensive geriatric assessment and decision-making in older men with incurable but manageable (chronic) cancer

In older cancer patients, treatment decision-making is often complex. A comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) is an established tool used in geriatric medicine to identify unmet need requiring intervention. This study aimed to assess whether using a CGA in older male cancer patients with incurable but manageable disease provides information that would alter a cancer clinician's intended management plan. Acceptability and feasibility were secondary aims.

Elderly men with incurable but manageable malignancies (advanced prostate cancer and multiple myeloma) who had previously received at least one line of treatment were recruited from hospital outpatient clinics. A CGA was undertaken. Additional parameters measuring pain, fatigue and disease-specific concerns were also recorded, at the recommendation of patient involvement groups. Results were made available to clinicians. Patient and clinician acceptability and changes in subsequent management were recorded.

Forty-eight patients completed the study. The median ages were 70.8 years and 74 years for myeloma and prostate respectively. Most identified concerns are related to disease-specific concerns (93%), pain (91%), frailty (57%) and nutrition (52%). Results altered the clinician's oncological management plan in nine cases only. Patients found the format and content of CGA acceptable.

Many unmet needs were identified in this population of elderly men with manageable but non curable cancer which led to supportive care referrals and interventions. The CGA, however, did not result in significant changes in clinical oncology treatment plans for the majority of patients. The application of the CGA and other assessments was viewed positively by participants and can feasibly be undertaken in the outpatient oncology setting.

Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer. 2018 Aug 25 [Epub ahead of print]

Catherine Handforth, Roger Burkinshaw, Jenny Freeman, Janet E Brown, John A Snowden, Robert E Coleman, Diana M Greenfield

University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. ., University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.